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A few reviews

Vultural

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Sleuths, Spies & Sorcerers - 2016 - 6/10

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Three part doc (of which I only watched E01, and am uninterested in the others) hosted by Andrew Marr
“Sleuths” charts the rise of detective fiction.  Poe mentioned, but Sherlock seems the starting point.
From there, Marr details cozy, targeting Christie (though Sayers and Marsh referenced).
After WWII, hardboiled Americans Chandler and Hammett, then to modern masters Pym and Rendell and current Scandinavian dominance.
Show is about the works themselves, as well as trends - less about author’s personal lives.
Current writers discuss bygone scribes and their own processes.
Breezy, slight, though enjoyable.  Marr a craggy host.
 

Vultural

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I Wake Up Screaming - 1941 - 6/10

Rising socialite found murdered!  Prime suspects - sportswriter boyfriend and the girl’s sister.
Detective in charge is convinced of boyfriend’s guilt and he begins to grind him down.
Highly influential, half forgotten thriller / mystery filled with flashbacks, sharp dialogue and pursuits.
For me, this is where “the look” of Film Noir begins.

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The story and characters are not Noir, however.  Time is still, barely, pre World Wart II.
Returning G.I.s would carry disillusionment and a grimmer outlook.  The tone of this harks to an earlier time.
An underrated Victor Mature fine as the cornered sportswriter.
Betty Grable, before her mass popularity, radiant as lush American good girl.
The star, though, is Laird Cregar (only 24, looks older), tackle sized with purring voice.

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Cregar, and brilliantly stylized camera work.
I Wake Up Screaming is packed with angles, shadows, and inventive camera movement.
DVD has outstanding commentary by Eddie Muller:  anecdotes, histories, tragic lives of Cregar and Landis.
 

Vultural

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(OK, I don't always control the remote, dammit)

Nine Lives - 2016 - 6/10

Say you are a massively successful businessman, with titanic ego.
For her birthday, your small daughter asks for - again - a cat.
Instead of delegating your secretary, you yourself go to an obscure pet shop to get the feline.
And who’s running the cat shop?  Mr Perkins, or as he would say, Purrkins.

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Only wait!  Before he can say, “I hate cats,"  the tycoon lies in a coma, his soul in the cat!
What to do, what to do?
I suspect because we are in a resurgence of television, movies, especially family fare, tend to get overlooked.
Jennifer Garner, Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken headline a comedy of a man who almost loses family and soul.
Warning - there are cat antics aplenty.  Cat haters, consider yourself warned.
 

addiesin

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6/10? Is it that good? I haven't seen it, have only heard the basic premise and expected maybe 3/10.
 

dangermouse

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5/10 is total rubbish
6/10 is ok to watch
7/10 is MUST WATCH
:)
 

Vultural

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addiesin said:
6/10? Is it that good? I haven't seen it, have only heard the basic premise and expected maybe 3/10.

    This was a movie for children.  Family friendly, meaning no foul language, no tittie shots, no genital groping, no dismemberment, no pets getting slaughtered.
    Is this a great film?  No, not at all.  It is cute, slightly above average, a 6.  Well made, with a strong cast who put in decent performances (ain’t no Oscar bait here).
    This film is not made for hipsters.  There is none of the mocking irony now de rigueur in our society, to belittle any artistic endeavor.
    There is also a cat, however, and I realize there are males who truly hate and despise felines.  Cats are not subordinate, let alone subservient underlings, and that often sticks in the craw of certain menfolk.
    Do I recommend Nine Lives?  More or less.  For cat fans first, family viewing second.  How many feature films are out there?  300,000?  Plenty of alternatives.
    Would I watch again?  Never.  Are there 3s, 4s, 5s I enjoy more?  Yes!
    Note - I like cats, though they are akin to being on a permanent bad date.
 

addiesin

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Well thank you for the clarification. I am a fan of some of the actors and was curious about the tone. No irony but competently made, sounds like it doesn't quite have the so-bad-it's-good formula, so I might avoid it. Thanks.
 

Vultural

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^ No, it is not a smug or self winking film.
And I didn't mean to apply the hipster flag to all in general.
Now for a step down in enjoyment ...

Trop (peu) d 'amour - 1998 - 6/10
AKA - Too Much (Little) Love

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Patience and stamina draining French drama.
Also quite talky, no surprise there.
40 year old movie writer / director invites young author to his country estate.
She is a green 18, but he finds elements of her draft screenplay intriguing.
At the manor is wife #2 (25ish) and his daughter (16).
Insecurities, jealousies, game playing, bickering launch almost immediately.
The 18 year old is exceptionally irritating and adept at pushing emotional buttons.
Acting is great in that viewers wind up hating all characters.
Females around me winced and said,  “Welcome to our world.”
 

Vultural

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Rigor Mortis - 2013 - 7/10

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How did this nifty Hong Kong gem fly under my radar?
Actor whose career is on the skids checks into a ramshackle high rise.
Suspends the noose, kicks the stool away, only to get rescued.
Building is a way-station or limbo or purgatory or simply a dump.  Take your pick.
Marketed as Horror, this is way too artsy and moody for cheap thrill seekers.
Suffice to say the building conceals souls that will not rest.
Dead - undead - unhappy dead - humans with a death wish.
Dazzling, inspired visuals.  Plenty of “wow, look at that” moments.
Like Del Toro’s Crimson Peak (which I did not care for overall)) this drips style.
Moody first halt, spells and conflict punctuate the second half.
 

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Kampen Om Tungtvannet - 2016 - 7/10
AKA - The Heavy Water Wars

Norway gets occupied by Germany during World War II.
One of the factories the Reich is keenly interested in is Norsk Hydro, where they make fertilizer, ammonia.
Especially the by-product, heavy water.

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Story relayed from four points of view:
The Nazis, British Intelligence, Norwegian Resistance, and Norsk Hydro management.  The latter understood the huge profits to be made, plus they were keeping employees working.
Lavish production values, sumptuous sets (early on, worse as war prolongs).
Main threads  follow the experiments race and the sabotage.
While this series boasts strong ratings, sabotage is not necessarily action.
Sabotage involves stealth, subterfuge, and invariably silence.
That may be challenging to the viewer demanding gun battles, fistfights, explosions, superheroes.
There are also several languages, meaning subtitles.  γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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Outstanding historical war drama for adults.
Note:  For action diehards, Michael Bay is filming his version of this piece of history.
Expect stylistic differences, action, superheroics - Michael Bay’s trademark.
 

dangermouse

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^ I'd just like to proudly say that my great uncle was one of the insertion team who was involved in this, and stopped Germany developing nuclear weapons. Woo!
And then less proudly say that my great uncle on the other side of the family was a member of the SS. Relations after the war were... frosty.
 

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Tonite Lets All Make Love In London - 1967 - 6/10

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Cinematic time capsule during the height of Swinging London.
Concert footage spliced with interviews (famous, forgotten or obscure).
Julie Christie, Lee Marvin, Michael Caine reflect on the times.
Mick Jagger muses upon a future where more people have less to do, and possible discontent.
Nightclub sequences, protest rallies, fashion, nudity, artists, with nonstop music.
Musical groups include “The” Pink Floyd, Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Rolling Stones.
For Pink Floyd fans,  Syd Barrett leads “Interstellar Overdrive."
Fast moving, rapid cut film relies on knowledge of faces, history and mores of the era.
Experimental work, part high concept, part pretentious meandering.
 

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Witness In The Dark - 1959 - 6/10

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Decent British B-movie, Noirish quickie.
Elderly woman murdered in her flat.  Lone witness passed the assassin on staircase.
Only problem, she is blind.
Police question repeatedly for even the slightest detail she can recall.
Time clocks less than an hour and the mystery (or lack of) breezes along.
Curious side glance at post war, gray market economy.
 

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Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) - 2010 - 8/10

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Who indeed?
Insightful biography of Nilsson, songwriting shooting star of the 70s.
He penned a string of monster hits (“One,” “Without Her,”  “Coconut,” “Jump Into The Fire,”  “My And My Arrow”) though he also punched the charts with huge cover versions (“Everybody’s Talkin’ “ and “Without You”).
Beloved by numerous musicians, including The Beatles, he reveled in success and excess.
A drinking problem and public bad behaviour landed him in tabloid headlines and an early grave.
Old footage, interspersed with reminisces by wives, relatives, peers (eg:  Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb, Richard Perry, Brian Wilson ...).
As with similar tales, rousing to watch an artist succeed with their talents, sad to view self-destruction.
 

bionicbob

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Netflix' s THE CROWN

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWtnJjn6ng0[/video]

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this series.  Its not soapy or trashy or scandalizing.
It's a solid engaging drama that treats the monarchy with sympathy and respect while still feeling balanced.

Claire Foy is remarkable as Elizabeth.  Matt Smith is also excellent.
The entire cast is strong with one exception.
John Lithgow.
Completely miscast.   His performance is good (he is a fantastic actor) but I never believed him to be Churchill for an instant.  He was Lithgow playing Churchill.  And his costuming makes him look like Igor from a Frankenstein movie lol.

Otherwise, a captivating drama and I look forward to another season.
 

TM2YC

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^ I'm 3 episodes in and yeah it's terrific so far. The series looks really gorgeous and expensive too. When comparing similar scenes/shots to something like 'The Kings Speech', it makes that look like a fan-film. Got to disagree on Lithgow though, he's so believable as the old broken down Churchill. The look...


...on his face when his secretary is reading the stirring words of his younger self back to him, was very memorable, very human.
 

Vultural

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Cafe Society - 2016 - 6/10

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Waste of superb cinematography and choice cast.
Woody Allen re-explores the past again, this time 1930s Hollywood and Gotham.
Young man tries and fails to make his mark in Tinsel Town - career and romance.
Parallel story of his mobster brother building a more lucrative, if dubiously successful, criminal path.
There was an excellent film in here, I’m convinced, but this ended up muddled.
The two storylines do not connect well, and there is no character development.
Final half of film ran out of steam.
OK Allen film.  Not his best, not his worst.  Disappointing for me.
 

Vultural

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Beware - Cooking Show Alert ! !

MasterChef Australia S01 - 2009 - 7/10

I watched four seasons of the US reboot of the British culinary show.
Eventually, I quit watching the US show in disgust.  It was phony, it was rigged, it was bait n hate.
The US FOX “reality" version was not about improving cooking skulls, the focus was pseudo drama.
The hosts (presenters) ought to be ashamed.
Big shout-out and thank you to Ben Starr for revealing what went on behind the scenes of the FOX troll show and for suggesting the altogether superior Australian version.


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From the onset, when one contestant made a dismissive comment about another’s dish, the host gently chastised him with,  “We’re not about that, mate.  We are not that kind of show.”
This set a bar, and one other versions of the template would be hard pressed to duplicate.
After a contestant was eliminated, the two host chefs gave remaining contestants a “Master Class.”
Top recipes with tricks and technique how to prepare.
When a winning team ate at a trendy restaurant, afterward they entered the restaurant kitchen to learn how to cook the dishes.
Once a contestant won an individual challenge, they got to square off against a celebrity chef.
The challenger invariably lost, but they were coached and helped throughout.
This was how those home chefs picked up their “skills.”

Were there unseen backstage dramas, rivalries, other problems?
Cram 20 souls together and, of course, there will be friction.
To its credit, the Australian version focused on individuals helping and supporting each other.
For viewers who prefer the positive, optimistic experience, MC Australia is for you.
Those who prefer animosity, backstabbing, grudges (know thyself) MC USA is your poison.
Thanks again, Ben Starr.  Best of luck on your path.
 

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The Young Marrieds - 1972 - 4/10

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Playboy husband lunches as strip clubs, bangs bunnies in the woods, goes home to uptight wife.
How uptight?  Well, they certainly do “everything” as far as sex-dial positions go.
He just wants her to be more outgoing, exhibitionist.
An omniscient narrator dispenses dime store psychology throughout in this hard core, moral tale.
Curious souls (such as I) still investigate this movie because this was the last film from the prince of bad films -
Ed Wood Jr.
Vintage porn.  Slow, dreadful acting, cheap looking in every way.
To be fair, the look (clothes, hair, interiors) was fairly spot on.  Crappy dune buggys were a rage, too.
Music was instrumental rock at the club, lounge for thrusting.
Sleazy junk - Wood aficionados will need to seek this out.
 

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The Secret Life Of Books:  S02 - 2016 - 7/10

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Superior followup to the first series (S01 marred by inferior presenters).
This season is a trifle more “English” with several titles less known outside of Britain.
Episodes include Spenser’s “Faerie Queen,”  Lear’s “Nonsense Songs,” Eliot’s  “Mill On The Floss.”
Also “Confessions Of An Opium Eater,”  “Cider With Rosie,” and “Swallows And Amazons.”
Each show is a mere 30 minutes.  Hosts read from the book, talk of their relationship with it, and the legacy of book and author.
Book lovers need no recommendation.  Others, this is a literary way to kill a half hour.
 
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