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A few reviews

Vultural

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The Lady On A Train - 1945 - 6/10

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Silly murder mystery, not without merits, though not, as indicated in IMDB, a Noir in the classic sense.
Deana Durbin’s character sees, or thinks she sees, a murder being committed from her seat on the train.
The police don’t believe her, nor does her favorite mystery writer whom she pesters.
She discovers the identity of the “victim.”  A rich gentleman, his death ruled a suicide.
Heirs include Noir heavy Dan Duryea and smiling Ralph Bellamy.
Several other quirky characters fill the plot, as well as false trails, more murders, quick dialogue.
For fans, Durbin sings a couple standards.
Hard boiled seekers, this ain’t it.
Light hearted fluff, you could do a lot worse.
 

Vultural

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Loulou - 1980 - 6/10

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Purely for sex.
Isabel Huppert dumps stolid, if abusive, husband for layabout, petty criminal stud, Gérard Depardieu.
At this time, GD had not turned into Jabba the Hutt, so naysayers don’t get started.
Little narrative “plot” in typical arthouse fare.  Wife abandons morally restrictive society for freedom in the alleys.
She does have her own money, however, and never worries about rent, utilities, groceries.
Nor sexual diseases, though Loulou is pre-AIDS.
Story never goes anywhere.  Instead characters are symbolic for class and expectation.
No, not a lot of fun.

Viewer note - Depardieu is Loulou (for Louis), and one of his male friends is Lulu.
 

thecuddlyninja

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - 2016 - 7/10

100 mph comedy, hitting you with joke after joke. None overstay their welcome and most of them work well.

Seems like the premise of a sketch but works for 90 minutes. SNL movies take note.

I think the character works as a forgivable idiot with enough charm. They hit the requisite plot points wasting as little time as possible and trying to make them weird. Love of Hot Rod or Incredibad would be a good indicator. Really smart to center a movie around pop music, since The Lonely Island are really good at writing funny pop music. Mona Lisa remains my favorite tune on the soundtrack.
 

bionicbob

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Vultural said:
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.

Watched last night based on your recommendation -- greatly enjoyed it, my wife even more so!
The ending leaves much to think about..... very dark and powerful.
 

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The VVitch - 2016 - 7/10

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Tried to avoid reviews and hype swirling around this one.
17th century colonials are ejected from the fortified plantation for unclear reasons.
One gathers the family head is a malcontent and religious troublemaker.
The family relocate to the edge of the forest and go it alone.
Hard luck trails them like blight.
Austere film, desaturated colours, slow pace, dialogue lifted from very old journals and court proceedings.
These are souls adrift and the backstory is barely hinted at.
The family departed England for a reason, were subsequently ejected from the colony for likely the same.
Brilliantly conceived and executed arthouse horror, but this mood piece will not be to all tastes.
 

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New Battles Without Honor Or Humanity - Part 03 Last Days Of The Boss - 1976 - 7/10

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This was it.  The end, no mas, done, finished.
Final film from unrelated spinoff of the acclaimed Battles Without Honor Or Humanity series.
Fukasaku had had enough and moved on to other projects.

This follows an escalating turf war between two mob families.
Even when they try to form an agreement, too much blood has been shed.
Top bosses cannot control their underlings and the film is punctuated with shooting sprees and assassinations.
One of the best moments finds small boss Bunta Sugawara avenging the murder of his leader by going after the rival crew in heavy trucks along a winding mountain road.
The pace in this film is dizzying, with jump cuts and blurry pans.
Characters lie throughout, and many times the viewer is deliberately confused regarding characters, and the narrative itself.
This can be watched as a stand alone episode, with no familiarity with the classic series.
 

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Paddington - 2014 - 6/10

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Fun childrens movie, though not necessarily for children of all ages.
Paddington the bear, stows away on a cargo ship from darkest Peru to visit London explorer who met his aunt and uncle decades earlier.
In London, he meets the Brown family and has adventures.
Highly enjoyable for those in room who had never read any of Michael Bond’s stories, or for those who had never seen any of the shorts narrated by Michael Hordern.
Seasoned fans thought this a dumbed down version.
One viewer even took issue with Paddington’s hat.  Red, which seems to have originated with the cartoon series.
Therein is the short answer - This movie has its roots in the cartoon show.
Paddinton is foolish, almost ridiculous in this version, but the storyline was approved by author Bond (cameo - man waving at bear).
 

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Welp - 2014 - 7/10
AKA - Cub

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Inventive, gruesome, intense, all kinds of wrong horror, clearly in the slasher genre.
A pack of cub scouts head into the woods for camping fun.
Their two den masters know locals shun the area.
There have been suicides and disappearances.
Oh yeah, one of the den leaders brings his dog.
Though most of the boys are ages 9-12, this Belgium horror ride is not for kids.
Children ... a dog ... understand - no one is safe.  Parents and dog lovers, cover your eyes!
Musical score is a wondrous arrangement of dark synthesizer.
Woods are packed with Rube Goldberg traps.
US remake highly unlikely.  Red meat for slash fans.
 

Vultural

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Les Rendez-Vous de Paris - 1995 - 6/10

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Three separate stories of romance and fidelity by Éric Rohmer.
A girl is informed her boyfriend is unfaithful.  What to do?
Another girl cannot decide to remain with her boyfriend and go with another.
The third story follows an artist who tries to pick up a newlywed.
Narratives are sequential, not interlocking.
Great photography of Parisian backstreets and neighborhood parks.
Talking and walking.  Ordinary lives.
Characters mention the word “banal” frequently.  It applies.
 

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Still Alice - 2014 - 7/10

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Initially, I feared this would be another rehash of Away From Her or Amour, two other acclaimed films about women with degenerative mental decline.  Both of those felt like good-for-you broccoli stories, and I could not relate with or care about the protagonists.
For whatever reason, Still Alice was more engrossing and enjoyable.
The premise is uncomfortable, watching sections of memory and intellect slide away.
Moore disappears into her role of esteemed linguist professor who starts to have trouble remembering words.
Only caveat I might have is these were affluent individuals.  The resources and options they have are beyond half the at-risk population.
Funny, heartbreaking, but not necessarily depressing.

Interviews with creative team a nice extra.
 

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Vultural said:
Paddington - 2014 - 6/10

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Fun childrens movie, though not necessarily for children of all ages.
Paddington the bear, stows away on a cargo ship from darkest Peru to visit London explorer who met his aunt and uncle decades earlier.
In London, he meets the Brown family and has adventures.
Highly enjoyable for those in room who had never read any of Michael Bond’s stories, or for those who had never seen any of the shorts narrated by Michael Hordern.
Seasoned fans thought this a dumbed down version.
One viewer even took issue with Paddington’s hat.  Red, which seems to have originated with the cartoon series.
Therein is the short answer - This movie has its roots in the cartoon show.
Paddinton is foolish, almost ridiculous in this version, but the storyline was approved by author Bond (cameo - man waving at bear).

I would also add the very strong theme of acceptance and anti-racism in the film. That was very much to the fore, highlighted by the kettle drum band who keep appearing in various scenes. Paddington is a refugee who needs help.
I found it surprisingly good, and surprisingly not just for kids, and surprisingly relevant.
Having said that - I have never read the stories - my Paddington was the early cartoon version on TV, so this film felt absolutely right to me!

Note: The death of Paddington's uncle early on can be pretty disturbing for very young children.
 

TM2YC

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dangermouse said:
Vultural said:
Paddington the bear, stows away on a cargo ship from darkest Peru to visit London explorer who met his aunt and uncle decades earlier.
In London, he meets the Brown family and has adventures.

I would also add the very strong theme of acceptance and anti-racism in the film. That was very much to the fore, highlighted by the kettle drum band who keep appearing in various scenes. Paddington is a refugee who needs help.

Yeah. I'm going to go live in the Paddington Bear movie. Better than the real world right now.
 

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Foxcatcher - 2014 - 6/10

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Based on the true life murder committed by wealthy DuPont scion.
Whereas most of his family is involved with horses, he is passionate about wrestling.
Not professional, but Olympic.
He ingratiates himself with gold medal brothers with his estate and wealth, and envisions himself as coach premier.
His training methods are non-existent, his obligation schedule heavy, and his need to control massive.
Any perceived slights or disloyalty yield consequences.
A moody film, shot on dreary outdoor days or inside washed out rooms, displaying lives.
Superb acting all around.  Atmospheric, if noticeable, score.
 

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Okkupert - 2015 - 7/10
AKA - Occupied

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Ten part Norwegian thriller set in the very near future (say a couple of years).
United States has withdrawn from NATO and grown isolationist.
The Mid-East is embroiled in civil wars.
After global warming disasters, Norway goes “green” and halts oil and gas production.
The European Union “requests” Russia to stabilize Norway, and ensure the oil flows.
Stabilization grows into occupation.  Citizens turn into rebels, appeasers, collaborators, profiteers.
Often changing positions due to the world of quicksand they are caught in.
Logic is not always to the forefront here.  Why does Russia care if Norway ceases oil production since that means more profits for Russia with less competition!
Engrossing story about a larger nation superseding the rights of its smaller neighbor.
Not surprisingly, Russia denounced this show.


Curious how Norwegians reacted to this?
Any thoughts, DM?
 

dangermouse

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^ Haven't seen it yet. It was on my "maybe" list. I might check it out. :)
 

bionicbob

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Vultural said:
Foxcatcher - 2014 - 6/10

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Based on the true life murder committed by wealthy DuPont scion.
Whereas most of his family is involved with horses, he is passionate about wrestling.
Not professional, but Olympic.
He ingratiates himself with gold medal brothers with his estate and wealth, and envisions himself as coach premier.
His training methods are non-existent, his obligation schedule heavy, and his need to control massive.
Any perceived slights or disloyalty yield consequences.
A moody film, shot on dreary outdoor days or inside washed out rooms, displaying lives.
Superb acting all around.  Atmospheric, if noticeable, score.

I agree the performances were amazing and I really enjoyed the film UNTIL I watched the documentary TEAM FOXCATCHER -- truly mesmerizing!  And it made you realize how much the movie adaptation changed... the true story is far more fascinating and riveting!   Check it out...

 

thecuddlyninja

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The Lobster - 2016 - 6/10

Non-spoiler review (highly recommend watching and knowing as little as possible going in)

I was really engaged in this movie for the first half or so. I have not seen Dogtooth but heard enough about it to know I was getting into something weird here. I thoroughly enjoyed Colin Farrell's performance in this movie, I like the almost affectation-less style the director is generally going for. The half of the film in the Hotel itself was gripping and entertaining. I laughed multiple times and felt the full range of emotions. The satire was biting and the messaging sharp. From the opening scene (which is a real WTF moment if you do not know the central premise of this film) I was hooked.

And then the story changed up the scenery. This half really fell flat for me. I completely understand the point and all that but it was much more difficult to get through. The oft-so-brilliant-that-people-don't-realize-how-brilliant John C. Reilly is great, there are characters which both inject humor (some very dark) and act as perfect thematic representations. The second half is dominated by characters which are not very pleasant and the metaphors become super on-the-nose. Okay, many throughout are but when they're done with pinache and humor it's all good.

In the end, this was a fascinating movie that left me thinking about life, the universe and everything (okay, maybe just love). I imagine parts will stick with me for years.

Failure at the box office I think. Much like Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Green Room, Midnight Special and Neon Demon, most people continue to say they are sick of movies based on existing IP and long for more original, smaller, creative movies but then do not actually go see original, smaller, creative movies. Sigh.
 

Vultural

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Europe - Them Or Us - 2016 - 7/10

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Almost out of date already.  Two part documentary geared for then topical Brexit vote.
First part deals with the formation of the Common Market, and the UK’s reluctance to join.
UK does join, of course, and the second part details the EU, free migration, and mistakes made.
Presenter does a fine job trying to be fair, though as an outsider, I have no idea.
Curious souls may find this interesting as there is plenty of history, less shown on news shows.

Available via YouTube as of 2016 June.
 

Vultural

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Nostalghia - 1983 - 5/10

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Thirty years ago, I paid good money to see arthouse fare such as this, only to exit afterward thinking myself shallow and stupid.
Now, older and more jaded, I wonder how much responsibility the filmmaker bears.
Had they been too oblique, too steeped in symbolism to make sense?
I’m not advocating for dumbed down cinema, but if the majority of viewers cannot fathom the plot, then the director is squarely at fault.

Joint Italian/Russian film of Russian poet living in Italy, researching a book on an obscure Russian composer.
He keeps daydreaming about the wife he left behind.  Or is she dead?
He and his translator ponder the village idiot, a rambling old man and his dog.
Rain pours most of the time, or sets are shrouded in fog.
The beautiful blonde Italian translator wants to have a baby.  Maybe.  Or perhaps she had an abortion.
Multiple meanings abound, as do veiled narratives.
Most positive reviewers noted one needs to watch this numerous times to appreciate.
I should live so long.
 

Vultural

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45 Years - 2015 - 8/10

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Agonizing portrayal of marriage in crisis.
Days before a husband and wife celebrate their 45th anniversary, he receives an official note of a “found” body.
His old girlfriend, who had been hiking with him in the Swiss Alps, had fallen into a crevasse.
With global warming, the glacier had melted and her body was visible, some fifty years later.
“Why would they notify you?”  the wife asked.
“I was listed as next of kin.”
“Why was that?”
“Well, see, we were sort of married.”
After that, the husband grows increasingly soaked in regret - for his youth, for another life, for the girl he wanted to spend his life with.
Charlotte Rampling devastating as wife who sees the old flame as a destroying angel.
 
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