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A few reviews

Vultural

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Damsels In Distress - 2011 - 5/10

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Forgettable "comedy" about a group of girls who man the Suicide Prevention building at Seven Oaks College.
Completely all over the map, as the damsels try to improve fellow students, educate frat boys, succumb to romantic perils, invent dance routine.
Dialog preposterously overwritten, arch and conflated.  Nobody - nobody - talks like that. Not even in a Shepard or Stoppard play.
I saw this because I had enjoyed director Stillman's previous works (Metropolitan, Barcelona, even Last Days Of Disco), but those were all from the 90s.
Damsels reeked of comeback desperation.
 

Vultural

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Mr. Turner - 2014 - 5/10

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Dreary biopic had key viewers hollering foul that Spall missed an Oscar nod as British painter J W Turner.
Really, Spall spent most of the film grunting or guffawing, arguably a spot-on portray of the taciturn artist, but hardly compelling viewing.
Fine outdoor photography undermined by dishwater narrative.
Characters singularly unlikable, and whatever drives them eludes the viewers.
Plot is little more than Turner dabbing oils on canvas, shagging the housekeeper, setting up alternative house, while snorting at relatives, relatives, fellows artists, critics.
A good documentary on Turner would be a recommended alternative.
 

Vultural

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The Forbidden Room - 2015 - 7/10

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Wow, I have seen some truly bizarre films in my time, this one hits my top 2% in out-there!
Collision of arthouse, experimental, Silent cinema, demonstration shorts ...
A submarine crew is trapped undersea with a cargo of explosive jelly.
Because they are running out of air, they gobble down hotcakes since those are filled with air pockets.
A sopping wet woodsman (Sapling Jack) enters their midst via a door / duct.
He shares his story of fighting the Red Wolves who had captured the lovely Margot.
Margot in turn, remembers when she had over a hundred broken bones set by the doctor who fell in love with her, only he was kidnapped in the sensuous embrace of skeleton women.

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That’s maybe the first twenty minutes of an almost two hour visual kaleidoscope.
Visual dissolves, inter-titles, musique concrète, a powerhouse cast, in a film confusing, funny, and thoughtful.
Oh, one of the woman’s boyfriends turns into a banana.  How could I forget that?
Unwary - beware.
 

skyled

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Vultural said:
Mr. Turner - 2014 - 5/10

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Dreary biopic had key viewers hollering foul that Spall missed an Oscar nod as British painter J W Turner.
Really, Spall spent most of the film grunting or guffawing, arguably a spot-on portray of the taciturn artist, but hardly compelling viewing.
Fine outdoor photography undermined by dishwater narrative.
Characters singularly unlikable, and whatever drives them eludes the viewers.
Plot is little more than Turner dabbing oils on canvas, shagging the housekeeper, setting up alternative house, while snorting at relatives, relatives, fellows artists, critics.
A good documentary on Turner would be a recommended alternative.

This movie was unbearable. The trailer looked great and I know it got great reviews, plus I like Turner's paintings and his biography is interesting, but what a terrible movie. I'll sum it up like this: 2.5 hours of a miserable, grumpy painter treating other people poorly, with no plot, very little humor, and very little painting. Note that I only made it half way through the movie.
 

Vultural

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Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Fabulous Stains
- 1982 / 2008 - 5/10

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Obscure, punk flick that played in a few theaters, then disappeared until 2008.
Young Diane Lane leads the Stains, a punk girl group, with Laura Dern.
The group begins ragged (think Shaggs), improves as they lose credence, wind up glossy MTV icons.
A fading, headlining 60s group features Fee Waybill (The Tubes).
A rival opening act has Paul Cook & Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), and Paul Simonon (Clash).
Not a bad movie, pleasant time spinner.
 

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Testament Of Youth - 2015 - 7/10

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Latest adaptation of Vera Brittain’s World War I memoir.
Brittain, presumably part of the rural gentry, dreams of becoming a writer and being admitted to Oxford.
Events go her way at first, though one is reminded of simmering tensions in Europe throughout.
Gradually, however, the conflagration across the Channel empties her world.
Film picks up pace as the conflict grows.  First part of the movie is a bit too low key.
The romantic leads lack chemistry, as well as intensity.
Second half is altogether sharper and grimmer.
Ending felt rushed.  Investigate the 1979 version for a fuller aftermath.
 

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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.


Wow, Gaith, what can I saw? Thanks for posting this!  I rather enjoyed this short (despite it feeling neither Nolan-like nor Pixar-esque). It was touching. I do agree with some of the criticisms posted here (a bit too much explanation), but overall, a touching and interesting short. A solid 7.5/10 for me.
 

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The Shallows - 5/10

The theater near me advertised 4:45 showing of The Neon Demon but alas, it was nowhere to be seen. Desperately tried to talk the wife into Swiss Army Man but was unsuccessful. So, that's how I arrived at this film.

Started out okay, Blake Lively is solid and she's got a pretty singular tortured backstory. Screenplay ends up connecting everything to what you expect from the set up. Perhaps this is me being old but they put her phone's screen huge and translucent when she looked at pictures and talked on it, and it was weird as hell. There's a dramatic conversation with her dad that I can't feel any emotion for since it's two giant heads on floating screen in front of a gorgeous beach. Visuals are pretty great, framing was often really interesting. Music is a big bummer for me. Dramatic shark stuff takes too much from the Jaws theme sound and everything else just tells you how to feel. Voiceover inserted a lot showing no trust in audience (you can just show the shark biting the painful coral again without VO saying "the shark didn't like that at all - hurt like a jellyfish sting" and it'll be fine. Tacked on "one year later" bit that is horrible and on the nose like a teenage zit. But Lively excels at the physical work and it is shot nicely which goes a really long way in this. Tight 90 but the last act gets super over the top and the CGI is really bad. It's much more effective in bursts.
 

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Crimson Peak - 2015 - 8/10

I'd heard not to expect much of a straight up horror film - 'duh' for Del Toro fans. Stylish, perfectly composed, gorgeous sets, arresting cinematography, etc.

Dark fairy tale of sorts. Protagonist begins unlocking the puzzle once she stops being reactive. Left with lots of thoughts. Seems interesting to me that Del Toro causes me to reflect on feminity perhaps more than anyone else.

Nice suspense film, reveals aren't held back for drama, they are tussled loose with precision.

Dynamic acting by all three main characters, chemistry pops. Chastain in particular excels.

I look forward to rewatching this many times.
 

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@Thrown: you're welcome! :)


Vultural said:
Mr. Turner - 2014 - 5/10

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Dreary biopic had key viewers hollering foul that Spall missed an Oscar nod as British painter J W Turner.

skyled said:
I'll sum it up like this: 2.5 hours of a miserable, grumpy painter treating other people poorly, with no plot, very little humor, and very little painting. Note that I only made it half way through the movie.

Sounds like a terrific candidate for a 30-40 minute fan edit - enough to get the visuals and a sense of the characters, but short enough that the lack of plot isn't too onerous.
 

TM2YC

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thecuddlyninja said:
Crimson Peak... Stylish, perfectly composed, gorgeous sets, arresting cinematography... I look forward to rewatching this many times.

The correct opinion to hold of this movie.
 

Vultural

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Rolling Stones - Live In Fort Worth, Texas - 1978 - 7/10

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By late 70s, Punk exploded, dismissing the old guard as irrelevant, pompous, out of step, tired.
Old. Especially those British Invasion relics.  
In '78, the Stones discarded the bloated sets, Jagger's preening nonsense, and hurled themselves into a tight, no-nonsense tour.
Didn't hurt that Jagger plugged in the guitar again.
In Cowtown's Will Rogers Auditorium, “World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band,” fully lived up to the title.
The performance was pedal to the metal, with a full bore, dialed to 11, sound mix.
Killer.
 

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Remember - 2016 - 8/10

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Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau as ninetyish Auschwitz survivors in nursing home.
Plummer suffers dementia, Landau is wheelchair confined.
They discover an Auschwitz officer had escaped under a false name and lives in North America.
Plummer, confused and forgetful, agrees to locate and assassinate the Nazi.
Landau arranges as much as he can, tickets, room reservations, a printed itinerary, but Plummer is on his own.
Story makes rather painful viewing, but the hunt, the unfolding mystery, is thrilling, suspenseful and will keep you glued to the screen.
Plummer is exceptional in this, shading the character, Zev (Hebrew for Wolf) with regret, weariness, yet underlying resolve.

Note - Tiptoe review, this.  Unexpected surprises occur during Zev’s journey.
Beware of reviews with thoughtless spoilers.  Sadly, that trend seems to worsen each year.
 

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Gespenster - 2005 - 6/10
AKA - Ghosts or Fantasms

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Troubled teenage girl, doing community service from the looks of it, watches an older girl being beaten by two men.
The chance encounter leads to bonding - sort of.
The older girl is harder, manipulative and demanding.  The younger girl had dreamed of the older one, and there is now a sense of wish fulfillment and projection.
A secondary plot follows a middle aged women, recently released from a medical institution, who searches for the child she lost over a decade earlier.
A girl who would be just about the same age as the young girl.
The movie, while filmed in hard light most of the time, has a dreamlike quality to it.
One could view any or all of the character comments or histories as real - or fantasies.
Likewise the characters themselves.
Arthouse film - French / German production.
 

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House Of Horrors - 1946 - 6/10

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Diverting B-thriller with a solid Noir / Expressionistic look.
Outsider sculptor (failed artist) rescues large man from river.
Inspired by his grotesque features, the artist uses him as model for his Neanderthal piece.
He rants about unappreciative critics, not knowing his new friend is actually a psychotic killer.
Still ... no one likes critics, now do they?
At barely an hour, the plot chugs along swiftly.  Pleasant 40s era cheesecake a bonus.
 

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Nothing Personal - 2009 - 6/10

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Dutch girl sells off entire possessions on the street, pulls off wedding ring in empty flat.
Divorced?  Widowed?  Abandoned?
Next, she is hitchhiking across rainy Ireland.
Finds an isolated house near rugged coast and agrees to housekeeping duties for meals.
The owner is recently widowed.  Both keep each other at arm’s length.
The actual story, slim as it is, watches the growing curiosity each has for the other.
Austere scenery.  I did wonder how such a remote dwelling had electric power.
Also, the meals were pretty spectacular.  Plus, the wine rack seemed bottomless.
Readers of the books by Niall Williams and Cristine Breen will identify much of the labours.
 

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Calvary - 2014 - 7/10

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During confessional, a penitent confesses to the priest how, as a child, he was abused by a priest.
To feel better, he intends to kill.  Not the priest who violated him, he was a bad man.  No, the priest right next to him, a good man.
“Be on the beach next Sunday,” he states, “so I can murder you.”
Fatalistic story, laden with moral quandaries.  The sanctity of the confession limits what the priest can divulge.
He relates the threat to his monsignor, as well as the local constable, yet not the name of the party.
He is unsure, plus that would be a violation.
Instead, the week eddies past and he advises and counsels parishioners, broken, flawed, or lost.
Community is tight knit and worse than resentful relatives.
Stunning outdoor scenery ... especially along the beach.
 
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