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A few reviews

Vultural

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The Eye Of The Storm - 2011 - 7/10

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Piss and vinegar matriarch (Charlotte Rampling) summons her two children to her deathbed (Geoffrey Rush & Judy Davis).
No warm n fuzzy family sendoff in this one.
Bad blood and rotten memories.
These characters have no false belief in redemption.
For Rampling fans, Night Porter was a very long time ago.
 

Vultural

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The Spook Who Sat By The Door - 1973 - 7/10

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Ordered to integrate, the CIA recruits a company of black males and begins training.
All wash out, save one candidate who becomes the token Negro in the Agency.
He learns combat, bomb making, guerrilla tactics, yet after five years he resigns to do social work in Chicago.
Once in the Windy City, he sets out to radicalize the hood, creating a militant commando force.
Groundwork laid, an hour into the film, the Cobras strike!
Wow, what a neat little film.  Part Blaxploitation, total righteous anger.
There are stereotypes, to be sure, as well as conversational debates.
Issues of race, class, money, power are voiced throughout, often using humor or satire.
While B-film limitations are evident, this has a lot of heart and the rage resonates today.
Deemed too inflammatory and yanked soon after its release.
Score by Herbie Hancock, directed by Ivan Dixon of Hogan’s Heroes fame.
 

ssj

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when stumped by What to Watch/Not in the Mood for a Blockbuster, i could mine these pages for recommendations.

thanks, vultural, for all the reviews.
 

Vultural

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^  Thanks, ssj.  Drawback is that I tend to favor less mainstream fare.


The Art Of The Steal - 2009 - 7/10

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Documentary on how Philadelphia politicians, charitable institutes, and foundations, colluded to disregard the stipulated will of mega collector Albert C Barnes, shift stewardship of a priceless collection to the Philadelphia Museum.
Why? Tourist money in the millions.

I viewed this with a group who were appalled, indignant, angry.
I argued theft is in our DNA. I referenced the Elgin Marbles, the Hermitage, loot taken by Caesar, Napoleon, Goering, and untold wealth grabbed by Conquistador Spain from Central and South America.
The group chastised me for being cynical.
 

Vultural

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Swerve - 2011 - 6/10

Man driving through Australian oblivion witnesses spectacular car smash.
One driver is injured, the other is pieces parts.  There is also a briefcase, stuffed with money.

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Boyscout to the core, our man hands the cash over to authorities in Neverest.
Turns out several parties are interested in those banknotes.  The body count begins to rise.
Neo Noir under blinding sun has double crosses, femme fatale, missing characters, slippery histories.
Oh, and a mini-convention of local police marching bands.  Twists vie with formula.
During one sequence by midnight pool, I predicted,  “Prepare for nude swimming.”
SPOILER - Prediction was correct. - SPOILER
Acceptable thriller if one does not dwell on a couple unexplained mysteries.

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ssj

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Vultural said:
^  Thanks, ssj.  Drawback is that I tend to favor less mainstream fare.

precisely why your reviews are so valuable.  :)
 

Vultural

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Blind Date - 2015 - 6/10
AKA - Un Peu Beaucoup Aveuglément

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Rather old-fashioned French romantic comedy.
Two individuals share an apartment floor, separated by non-insulated, thin wall.
They can easily hear each other, whether in the kitchen or in the shower.
Attraction grows, yet they have established boundaries, such as no physical contact.
Apparently, each has been burned one too many times in real relationships.
Set construction seem stagebound, and the basic plot is a retread.
Neither character is a social network slave, and both use their phones sparingly.
That strikes me as old-fashioned.
Fine date movie.
 

Vultural

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Control - 2007 - 7/10

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" ... your confusion, my illusion ... "
Sam Riley spellbinding as Ian Curtis, frontman of Joy Division.
Pressures and health problems push him to the edge of the rope.
Filmed in stark black and white, with evocative soundtrack.
Essential for fans.
Pairs well with 24 Hour Party People.
 

Gaith

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The Martian (2015)

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It's... fine, I guess. Nice to look at, and it held my interest once, but I have no desire to ever see it again. What's the point, really, of making a fictional knockoff of Apollo 13 when that movie exists, is historical, and great? (At least, I think it's great; I haven't seen it since it came out. I should fix that.)

The best bits are front-loaded, when Damon makes an improvised farm and Earth contact is sketchy. As the movie goes on, we spend more time with dull, one-dimensional Earth characters than we do with our hero, and the whole thing ends up feeling rote. (Those without a high tolerance for numerous cheering-filled, soaring score-heavy Mission Control room scenes need not apply.)

C+


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I frankly prefer 2000's under-appreciated Red Planet, which strikes a splendid balance between being just goofy enough to justify the Mars premise (whereas The Martian is blandly no-nonsense), but not so out-there that the drama deflates. And, there are zero - count 'em, zero - lame Earth cutaway scenes. (Did I mention it's a half-hour shorter?) Ebert gave it an affectionate three-star review:

"Red Planet" would have been a great 1950s science fiction film. It embodies the kind of nuts-and-bolts sci-fi championed by John W. Campbell Jr. in his Astounding magazine--right down to the notion that a space mission would be staffed by research scientists, and although there would be a woman on board, she would not be the kind of woman depicted in an aluminum brassiere on the covers of his competitors. This is a film where much of the suspense involves the disappearance of algae.

Red Planet
: B+


Random fan edit idea thought: a half-dozen or so Mars movies smooshed together, cutting from one to the other on a scene-by-scene basis? United by the Martian setting a vague near-future time? (i.e., sorry, John Carter, and Mars Needs Moms.)
 

TV's Frink

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I rather enjoyed The Martian, save for the way it treated Kristen Wiig.
 

bionicbob

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Gaith said:
The Martian (2015)


It's... fine, I guess. Nice to look at, and it held my interest once, but I have no desire to ever see it again. What's the point, really, of making a fictional knockoff of Apollo 13 when that movie exists, is historical, and great? (At least, I think it's great; I haven't seen it since it came out. I should fix that.)

C+

I frankly prefer 2000's under-appreciated Red Planet, which strikes a splendid balance between being just goofy enough to justify the Mars premise (whereas The Martian is blandly no-nonsense), but not so out-there that the drama deflates. And, there are zero - count 'em, zero - lame Earth cutaway scenes. (Did I mention it's a half-hour shorter?) Ebert gave it an affectionate three-star review:

"Red Planet" would have been a great 1950s science fiction film. It embodies the kind of nuts-and-bolts sci-fi championed by John W. Campbell Jr. in his Astounding magazine--right down to the notion that a space mission would be staffed by research scientists, and although there would be a woman on board, she would not be the kind of woman depicted in an aluminum brassiere on the covers of his competitors. This is a film where much of the suspense involves the disappearance of algae.

Red Planet
: B+

My family loves The Martian!  Have watched it multiple times and it continues to entertain.  Though I agree, Apollo 13 is superior and it still holds up wonderfully after all these years.

The Red Planet on the other hand I find completely unwatchable.  I agree it has a neat retro-throw back quality, but I think it was very poorly executed and I just had trouble believing any of these guys would be selected to go to Mars....lol.   No wonder NASA withdrew all support during the early production phase.

I have a real soft spot for Brian DePalma's MISSION TO MARS... it too is a bit goofy, but I have a fascination with the whole Face On Mars concept and weirdly I found Mission to Mars more believable than Red Planet.  :p

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UccsxuP8Tk8[/video]
 

dangermouse

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The book is worth a read. Much more to the fore is solving problems through knowledge and hard thinking. And helluva funny. Mark Watney's character really shines through.
And there's very little cut back to earth in the book.... maybe they should've stuck to the book!
(and I agree that Apollo 13 is amazing).
 

ThrowgnCpr

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pmsl, I've never heard anyone say they prefer The Red Planet to anything. 

FWIW, I enjoyed The Martian. I had really low expectations, because I've hated everything Scott has done lately, and I was not excited to watch Matt Damon in Space. It was surprisingly entertaining.
 

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The Girl From Monaco - 2008 - 4/10

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The main character, a high powered defense attorney is miswritten as a Woody Allen nebbish type.
He made relationship mistakes (personal and sexual) over and over.
An alibi presented itself, yet he made a decision that no actual lawyer would have made.
The ending was incompetent.
Pathetic writing, weak directing, over acting sink this dud quicker than an ice cube in boiling water.
Pass, unless you are French film completest.
 

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X-Rated: The Greatest Adult Films Of All Time - 2015 - 6/10

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Chronological sweep of adult features.  Opens with Deep Throat, closes with Star Wars XXX.
Luckily, or sadly, I have watched both, and many of the movies in between.
Doc runs 95“, and each film gets a little over five minutes.  30 - 35 films showcased.
Directors interviewed, porn stars, as well as choice clips.
Again, these are porn features.  Those with bare plots.  Not the spray revue.
Tone is - “Oh what a fun time we had!” glossing over any unpleasantness.
Useful checklist for fans looking to fill gaps in their viewing bucket list.
Do not skip the closing credits.
 

skyled

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Gaith said:
The Martian (2015)



Random fan edit idea thought: a half-dozen or so Mars movies smooshed together, cutting from one to the other on a scene-by-scene basis? United by the Martian setting a vague near-future time? (i.e., sorry, John Carter, and Mars Needs Moms.)

Gotta throw the Angry Red Planet in there.
 

Vultural

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Love & Mercy - 2015 - 8/10

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Resisted this for a very long time.
I am very familiar with the Beach Boys, particularly Brian Wilson’s story.
Glossing or fabricating on the filmmakers part would ruin this for me.

A few quibbles aside, this is highly recommended to Wilson fans, and generally recommended to casuals.
Paul Dano portrays Brian at his creative zenith, while John Cusack’s Wilson is caught, not in the lowest point, but certainly in a career trench.
Dano very good as young Brian, innocent, ebullient, full of uncontrolled ideas.
Cusack has the tougher road as he does not resemble Brian, yet he does not fall into the cheap actor’s trick of impersonation.  Hairstyle or Wilson’s sidespeech.  Cusack works marvels with mannerisms.
Basic tale of collapse and later resurrection is smartly told, if somewhat disingenuous.
Outstanding use of colours and clothing to evoke time and convey subliminal messages.
The two docs on this are helpful.

First problem - Dr Landy.  Yes, a despicable, self-serving cad, and yet, he did get Brian out of bed, got him to exercise, eat better, lose weight.  He also pushed him into the studio to craft a great album.
(Rolling Stone published an insightful article in their August 11, 1988 issue.)
No reference whatsoever to the “drainers” as Marilyn (wife #1) called them.
The spongers and hangers on who were human parasites.
No reference to Diane Rovell, Marilyn’s sister.  Both were in Wilson produced groups, The Honeys and Spring.  

Another problem - The band’s discomfort with “Pet Sounds”.  As if they did not understand it.  Fact is, Brian used crack musicians and the band knew the songs would be difficult to perform live.  (Note - they later learned.)
This dovetails into the “Smile” sessions where Mike Love lobbied hard to return to the old cars, girls and surf formula, which was already passe.
In 1967 music was exploding.  Filmmakers, instead of playing Dusty Springfield song, should have selected The Doors, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Hendrix, to name a few, to show just how out of touch Mike Love was, and how Brian, following his own muse, was more cued in.

Another quibble.  Although the movie flashbacks on the early Beach Boy ascent, the subsequent years are not shown.  The band continued, with and without Brian, to release well received albums for another decade.

As noted, these are nitpicks, and the casual Beach Boys fan couldn’t care less.  Moreover, hardcore fans - of any musician, poet, writer, actor, artist, chef - are often obsessive and strange.

Correspondence

In the summer of 1996, the inaugural issue of the fanclub newsletter, “Break Away with Brian Wilson” showed up in my mailbox.  This came out of nowhere and I was thrilled.
I think my name was added to the initial mailing list by David Leaf, author of “The Beach Boys And The California Myth” as well as the liner notes for the Beach Boys Capitol two-fers.  I had written him occasionally, asking specific questions or making comments.
Anyway, I scribbled a thank you note for the newsletter and posted it back to Sherman Oaks.
No reply.
The newsletters showed up on and off for several years.  Two one year, three another, perhaps one in a busy year.
I wrote back sometimes.  Referenced an article in the newsletter, or spoke about the record store where I still worked.  What was selling, what staff listened to, what customers said or did or bought.  Or a story.
No reply.
This was a lean period in Wilson’s career.  Comebacks are hard in America.  “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” sold fair, “Orange Crate Art” sold poorly.  He hit the road with a strong backing group anchored by The Wondermints.  They performed “Pet Sounds” and deeper Beach Boy cuts to growing audiences.  Seemingly overnight, Brian was rediscovered.
Newsletters described about the studio, the tours, his family life.  Possibly, the fanclub flyers helped with his return, but were no longer necessary.  After the winter of 2002 there were no more.  “Break Away with Brian” vanished as mysteriously as it had arrived.

A couple issues on pdf - https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8693284/Break Away.zip

I continued to drop the odd letter now and then, always to the old Sherman Oaks address.
No reply.
Then again, none of my letters were ever returned.  Someone received them.
I sent my last letter in 2004, as our record store was closing.  Across the country, record shops were disappearing, like soda fountains, like video stores, like bookshops soon would.  The era of “owning" music had passed.
Ours was a huge store with deep catalog.  I wrote Brian how our bins emptied, how we shifted dwindling stock to the front and killed the lights in most of the store.  The atmosphere was eerie and depressing.
I told Brian how we kept “Imagination” and “Roxy Theatre” in rotation to the end, sending out good vibes to staff and customers.  I thanked him for the sheer volume of fabulous songs he had shared with people.  Thanked him being positive and giving in a world that is seldom either.  Sent the letter.  A day later, switched off the lights for good.
No reply.
And yet ... over the years, instead of a letter, stray gifts graced my mailbox ...

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Brian has always been a totally class act.
 

Vultural

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The Zombie Walks - 1968 - 5/10
AKA - Im Banne des Unheimlichen

Movie opens during church funeral as pallbearers hoist the coffin.
Whereupon gales of laughter issue from the oblong box.
Does anyone investigate?  Heck no, they’re British, avoid embarrassment at all costs.
They seal the stiff in the crypt and head to the pub.
Krimi based on Edgar Wallace book is a campy spoof the of genre, as well as Gothic potboilers.

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Sure enough, soon as folks wonder if the corpse ain’t dead a skull faced fiend starts killin’.
The movie blasts along with murders, chases, blondes, and dozens of suspects.
Even during simple interviews, filmmakers toss in crazy sets and visuals to distract you.

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Though “set” in England, with Lords, Rolls Royces, Scotland Yard, this is a German production all the way.
Not the best krimi.  A nutty film for aficionados of odd.
 

TV's Frink

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What a coincidence, I own that exact table!
 

Gaith

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I liked The Girl from Monaco, but that was years ago; don't know if I'd stand by that...
 
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