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A few reviews

Vultural

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Fallen Angel - 2007 - 6/10

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Very dark, short series with Emilia Fox and Charles Dance.
Child kidnappings, severed limbs, and a locked freezer. All in the first part.
The following two segments were flashbacks, detailing the creation of a monster.
Much of this will be horrifying to parents.
Note - This is not an American production.  Outside of the States, children characters exist and suffer much as actual children.
The ending stretched plausibility.
 

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The Shallows - 2016 - 7/10

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Darned good shark chomper.  (I live with shark fans so I get force-fed shark films a lot.)
Surfer girl makes her way to very obscure beach in Mexico.  Friends bailed, so she is alone.
Even though she meets a pair of other surfers, she watches them depart so she can get one last ride.
Then the shark arrives, and hers becomes a battle for survival.
And don’t assume ole sharky will let her catch a wave to shore.  No way.
Slow buildup leads to a nail biter the rest of the way.
The ending seems to have one scene too many.
Gorgeous photography.
 

Vultural

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Horrors Of Spider Island - 1960 - 3/10
AKA - Ein Toter hing im Netz

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Crap-o-rama alert!
Eight showgirls fly from Manhattan to Shanghai.
Enroute, seas turn choppy and their plane crashes.  Don’t even ask.
After days adrift, they spy an isle (that looks exactly like Gilligan’s island) and paddle to safety.
Still wearing dresses, makeup, and pearls, they find a cabin, stocked with food!
And a grizzled prospector, caught in a gigantic spider web.  Dead, meaning D-E-D.
So what happens?  What do you think happens?
One by one they get killed, yet still find time to go swimming naked.
Legendary bad film.  Dubbing is atrocious.  Shambles courtesy West Germany.
 

Vultural

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Another Year - 2010 - 6/10

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Quiet slice from Mike Leigh.
Happily married couple (Jim Broadbent & Ruth Sheen) and the friends who pass in and out of their lives.
Events move from season to season.
Nothing earth shaking, though Lesley Manville terrific as desperately lonely best friend.
 

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Tokyo Fiancée - 2014 - 6/10

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20 year old Belgium girl moves to Tokyo and offers to teach French lessons.
She gets one client, a male her own age, who seems to speak French passably well.
Nonetheless, money is money and they meet weekly.
Sparks don’t exactly fly as both seem to suffer cultural misperceptions of each other.
He introduces her to friends as his fiancée, she is convinced he is Yakuza.
Story winds in unpredictable directions and often deadends.
Several scenes were, perhaps, symbolic, except I was unable to parse meaning.
 

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A Film Unfinished - 2010 - 7/10

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Nazi film from inside the Warsaw Ghetto for an unfinished propaganda piece.
Sidewalks littered with rich citizens and corpses.  Not necessarily.
Reels discovered years later indicate filmmakers set up situations, and did multiple takes.
“Rich" were actually coerced victims.
Chilling reminder that images have always been manipulated for dark agendas.
 

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Shakespeare On Stage, Screen And Elsewhere - 2016 - 6/10

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Part of 2016‘s Shakespeare Lives celebration across Britain.
I thought this would be a film survey, but it is actually a lecture by Ian McKellen.
Personal memoir, anecdotes of productions, bios of bygone actors.
As well as the conspiracy theory of questionable authorship - which McKellen does not subscribe to.
Knowledgeable audience had apparently seen many of the lesser known works.
McKellen, a cheerful raconteur, frequently pauses to find his thought.
Impatient or multi-tasked souls may glance at the exits.
 

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Made In Dagenham - 2010 - 7/10

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The ladies of the Machinists Union go one strike against Ford in 1968.
Simple enough reason - pay inequality.
Lively goings on across the picket line and within several cash strapped households.
Strong cast (although most were young and attractive, even Barbara Castle), with sharp dialogue.
Worth remembering that women were perceived as second tier a scant 40 years ago.
Fortunately that has been rectified across the globe.
 

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Vincere - 2009 - 4/10

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Italian potboiler about one of Benito Mussolini's mistresses.
She goes insane - or is insane to begin with - and institutionalized.
Ham fisted acting accompanied by operatic music cranked to 11 during heavy melodrama.
Possibly the music was meant to wake dozing viewers.
As far as historical accuracy, I do not know.
 

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Straight Outta Compton - 2016 - 7/10

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Rousing biopic of badboy rappers, N.W.A.
Standard tale of friends forming a band, hitting the big time, then the money fights.
Focus is on Eazy, Cube and Dre, and the latter seems to have been smoothed a shade.
Not too many liberties taken, though my knowledge is basic at best.
I checked for inaccuracies later and found minor, aside from Heller’s litany.
Should appeal to the mainstream despite expletives, weed use, nudity, coochie poppin ...
By a quirk of casting, Paul Giamatti plays NWA’s shifty manager.  Soon as I saw him I hollered,  “Look out guys!  That’s Dr Landy.  He fleeced Brian.  Look out!”
Oddly enough, I found myself giving footnotes to innocents around me.  “What does OG mean?”  “Who is Suge Knight?”
I watched the extended cut, almost three hours, and it never dragged.
 

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Dogtooth - 2010 - 3/10

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Pretentious, arthouse Greek twaddle.
Three late teen children have been raised in complete isolation by overprotective parents.
The parents misinform and deliberately under-educate them. The children’s social skills are non existent.
Is this a cautionary tale about home schooling?  Does that even exist in Greece?
Or is the theme some alienation nonsense?
Feline lovers  beware - when the cat appears you better leave the room. You're not going to like it.
Loathed this film, hope the director never makes another.
 

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Houdini & Doyle - 2016 - 6/10

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Escape artist and Sherlock creator solve crimes along with a female Scotland Yard inspector.
Fun, but not remotely historically accurate.
Doyle and Houdini have ongoing disputes over spiritualism, some episodes are borderline absurd, and the parade of “guests" grows strange, indeed.
Fans of Murdoch Mysteries ought to enjoy as H & D strongly resembles that show.
Another plus, this seems to be a one-off.  If only more shows were thus.
 

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Pieces - 1983 - 6/10

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Gory thriller that navigates between Giallo and Slasher.
Opening has dear mom watching her son work a jigsaw puzzle.  Of a nude model.
Mom wrecks his puzzle and junior finds a nearby axe.
Decades later, an unseen, gloved stalker starts solving that nudie puzzle.
By chopping up a bevy of college beauties.
Mounting body count of Euro lovelies baffles police!
Though set in Boston, filmed in Madrid.

There is a valuable audio commentary with Jack Taylor.
Most of the discussion is not about this film, but rather Jess Franco, with whom Taylor made eight films.
For Franco fans, this will be great.
 

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Tapas - 2005 - 6/10

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Four minor storylines weaved in and out of a minor tapas bar in Barcelona.
Characters aching for love, saying goodbye to love, finding love.
Usual assortment of types and ages.
Mildly agreeable.
STILL ... If a movie is titled Tapas (or Tapas Bar) then, damnit, there ought to have been a lot more food.
This flick served tiny portions of prep work and dining appreciation. ¿Muy gusto? No.
 

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The Devil’s Double - 2011 - 7/10

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Soldier gets coerced into becoming Uday Hussein’s (Saddam’s eldest son) body double.
Bit of cosmetic surgery, teeth implant, behaviour training and voilà!
Soon the poor sap is viewing torture, rapes and dodging assassination attempts.
Dominic Cooper quite good as both flamboyant, maniacal Uday, and the more subdued Latif.
Filmmakers wisely chose to craft this as a full bore gangster saga.
Shootings, a gory evisceration, substance abuse, rampant sex, all during the tine of Gulf War 1991.
Opulent looking production, though docs reveal many of the visual tricks used.
 

TM2YC

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Vultural said:
Dominic Cooper quite good as both flamboyant, maniacal Uday, and the more subdued Latif.

Don't forget Dominic Cooper playing the more subdued Latif pretending to be the flamboyant, maniacal Uday. That's not an easy acting task!
 

thecuddlyninja

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TM2YC said:
Vultural said:
Dominic Cooper quite good as both flamboyant, maniacal Uday, and the more subdued Latif.

Don't forget Dominic Cooper playing the more subdued Latif pretending to be the flamboyant, maniacal Uday. That's not an easy acting task!

I haven't seen this but I absolutely love watching actors playing characters which are acting. It can appear so easy but I can't imagine riding that line; it must be really difficult.
 

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Black Mirror - 2011 - 6/10

Well done, if uncomfortable near future series.
This delves into the increasing muddle of networked humanity.
People valuing “virtual” over actual through phones, computers, social sites.
The most seen episode, “White Christmas” with Jon Hamm, follows online voyeurs to sexing.
One of the more unsettling possibilities is in “The Entire History Of You,” where individuals can record and replay daily incidents over and over.  They replay arguments, obsess over facial cues, have to surrender their recorders at security checks.
One that really stays with me is “The White Bear.”
A girl wakes up in an abandoned village.  Outside, she is soon stalked by a masked, shotgun shooting assassin.

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Wait!  The village is not abandoned.  The girl is soon circled by folks holding phones, capturing the moment.
No one, no one helps.  Part slasher - part conspiracy - totally original.
 

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Mau Mau Sex Sex - 2001 - 5/10

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Promising title proves more come-on and tease instead of meat, or at least scented petals.
Documentary of exploitation filmmakers David F. Friedman and Dan Sonney.
History is quickly sketched, with a fistful of obscure film clips.
Half the doc follows the then-retired gents, both in their 80s.
Dining in the restaurant, puttering in the house, strolling the carnival.
Now RIP, they come across as likeable old farts (meant nicely).
I’ve probably watched a half dozen of their films;  I recall as cheap and silly.
Nudie cuties, roughies, swept away as tastes shifted to raunchy XXX.
 

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A Bigger Splash - 2015 - 7/10

Deliciously unpleasant story of pop idol secluding herself on remote Pantelleria after vocal surgery.
Intruders arrive.  Her ex (manager/lover/producer) with his sullen daughter.

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Ralph Fiennes excels as hyper-kinetic, limelight hogging noise unit.
High energy, passive aggressive, pushy, sarcastic, manipulative, utterly toxic.
One of those souls who demand the spotlight, even though his gifts are minimal.
Fiennes character unsettles everyone.  His relationship with his daughter is uncomfortably cozy.
One wonders why the “normal” individuals endure him, though that is obliquely explained.
Warning, characters throughout are trolls or door mats.
Though not written by her, material evocative of Patricia Highsmith novels.
 
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