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A few reviews

Vultural

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Hitler’s Island Fortress - 2011 - 6/10

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Should be of interest to History buffs and the curious.
Archaeologists unearth Nazi gun placements on Jersey.
They do a three day dig to get an inkling of what the fortifications looked like.
A few uncomfortable interviews with aging survivors, shell casings, guesses on layouts.
Otherwise, filler.
This is NOT a doc covering the years Jersey was occupied, from 1940 - 1945.
 

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Murder At Christmas - 2014 - 6/10

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During Yule revels, Joanna Yeates, a bubbly, sunshine in a bottle lass, disappears in Bristol.
Surveillance cameras capture most of her movements on 17 December, on into her flat.
Her body was found Christmas Day, strangled.
Lightweight documentary poorly captures details or motivations.
Explanations for the culprit are sketchy.
Sad, especially considering the season, but oddly indifferent.
Not mentioned was the shockingly awful press coverage.
 

Vultural

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The Falcon Takes Over - 1942 - 6/10

Escaped convict arrives in nightclub where he worked, pre-confinement.
“Where’s Velma?”  followed by neck breaking.  Only the beginning of neck snapping, it turns out.
The Falcon (George Sanders) gets involved - - for no real reason.
RKO entry came two years too early for Noir, but the components are there.

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Ward Bond, the menacing murderer, is shot from low angles, in deep shadow.
Unresolved conspiracies, point to a mastermind at the top.
Story based on Chandler’s “Farewell, My Lovely,” awkwardly mixes light comedy with vengeance.
Entertaining, though Falcon fans and Noir buffs might be confused by this cocktail.
 

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Neon Demon - 2016 - 5/10

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Listed as Horror / Thriller.  Say what?
I got this hoping for fashion arthouse Horror.  What a fool believes.
Dewy eyed miss wanders Los Angeles hoping to make it as high fashion model.
Success is overnight, everything else is glacial.  Pace is mind numbing slow.
On the couture end, clothes look off the J C Penney’s rack.
Inventive composition, angles, colours?  No, just coloured light filters.
Nick Knight, Annie Leibowitz, Grace Coddington, et al have nothing to fear from this twaddle.
 

Vultural

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Back In Time For Christmas - 2015 - 6/10

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Two part show lets nuclear family celebrate Christmas’ past.
40s - 50s - 60s - 70s - 80s - 90s
Decorations and presents climb from wartime austerity to 90s affluence.
Accent on that word, affluence.  Family lives a nice upper middle class lifestyle, no out of work types here.
Participants in this “real life” reenactment are likeable, and seem less cautious or rehearsed than other shows.
The 60s house was bachelor Lounge to the max.  The two sisters wore appropriate hairstyles - nice touch.
Depends on your mood, I suppose.  Alternative to films you’ve watched till you're sick.
Slade fans, you know what the 70s bring.
 

TM2YC

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^ You should check out the recnt 'Back in time for Brixton' follow up. A family follows the experience of Britain's Caribbean community across the decades. History that is fun and fascinating, I really enjoyed it. It helps that the family featured is charming.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b083xxj0

 

Vultural

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^ ^
Thanks, I will find that.
My wife and I were riding the bus in Brixton in '80 or '86
and there was an onboard rumble between skinheads and Pakis.
Blood followed by Bobbies.
I had covered my bride with my body and she later commented that she never saw anything.
That is my memory of Brixton.
 

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Des Bien Aimes - 2011 - 5/10
AKA - Beloved

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For twenty minutes, I am enjoying this comedy, thinking, “This is why I like French films."
Then the comedy ends, followed by a two hour dirge.
Bummer.
Story starts in 1964 as young shoe clerk, working as whore on the side, meets a young doctor.
Within minutes, love leads to marriage.  Right, how many doctors pick prostitutes?
Marriage sours, then we follow her grown daughter and her relationship problems.
Throughout, narratives swing  between both tearful women.
Still curious about this doozy, French fans?  This is also a musical!  Characters sing throughout.
Song lyrics are wowzah bad -  ♫ The son of a fish is fishy ♪
Some of the dialogue is equally insane - “The beaver is sleeping?” “You know why they have a flat tail?”  “Because they were sucked by ducks.”
Swear, I’m not making this up!
Sadly ... the whole thing is a downer and a bore.  This could have been a trash masterpiece.
 

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Alias Boston Blackie - 1942 - 5/10

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Fast paced, watchable programmer in the long running series.
This is the “Christmas episode,” though that is really stretching.
Some indoor decorations, characters wishing seasons greetings.
Otherwise, streets look hot and sunny.
During charity revels (dancing girls and a bounding clown) in the slammer, one of the cons escapes.
Inspector Fararday is there, as is Blackie, on whom Farraday eyes as suspect number one.
Chases follow escapes follow temporary captures, looped several times.
Truly, if you have seen one Boston Blackie, you’ve seen them all.
Chester Morris breezes effortlessly as the nimble, reformed crook, always able to aid an attractive female.
 

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Elusive Justice - The Search For Nazi War Criminals - 2011 - 7/10

Incisive documentary hounds the trail of escaped WWII criminals.
After the Nuremberg show trials, and regional / national trials, the major powers opted to put the past behind.
(Rarely on trial were the scientists, whom all nations wanted).
Especially interesting is the Vatican to Argentina conduit, used by hundreds.
The “ratlines” as they were known, used Nazi gold as payment though that was not discussed.
Second half of the doc followed ongoing hunts and extradition attempts.
Race against time, as it were, before now quite old Nazis die off completely.

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This was real news in the 80s, and I often wondered, “What’s the point?"
These are frail, elderly men, just forget it.  Except - no - we should not.
There should never be a “statute of limitations” for war criminals or mass murderers.
Otherwise, the next generation will assume they too can kill, and die of old age in their sleep.

I watch a fair amount of these war documentaries and their aftermath.
To my eye, history seems on the verge of repeating itself, as nations everywhere place a “strong man” in charge to solve their problems.
People wave and cheer and scream, as the tide eddies us closer and closer into Corryvreckan.
 

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While You Were Sleeping - 1995 - 7/10

Once popular Sandra Bullock holiday vehicle, now sliding off radar.
Unfairly, perhaps.  Despite script flaws, this has a lot of heart and a surprisingly melancholic tone.
Female token booth employee rescues affluent man after he is shoved onto train rails and rendered comatose.
Due to misunderstandings, his family thinks she is their son’s fiancee and embraces her into their home.
From there on, complications, funny and bittersweet, ensue.
Major drawback is the cartoon music which misinforms scene after scene.

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The heart of this, however, is an amazing performance by Bullock, whose character, Lucy, is whip-smart, funny, kind hearted, romantic, and desperately lonely.
Though the film is about Lucy, in real life such characters work beside us or live across the hall, yet are completely invisible.  And at Christmas time, generally forgotten.
One of Bullock’s best roles.
 

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Des Crimes Presque Parfaits - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Almost Perfect Crimes

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Reenacted crimes from the 1700s to 1930s, analyzed and discussed by a variety of talking heads.
Something you might see on the Crime Channel (is there such a thing?) only this is French.
Everyone speaks in French (hard-subbed) save for the narrator.
Beware, most of the guilty climb the scaffold.
Moreover, some of those receiving the guillotine chop would be considered innocent in today’s eye.
Perhaps more interesting if you are dying of boredom.
 

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Comfort And Joy - 1984 - 5/10

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Scottish radio announcer gets entangled in ice cream truck feud.
Mister Bunny (no more Mister Softy!) trucks vandalize McCool trucks and vice versa.
In other hands, this might have been a holiday turf war.
Instead, this is weird for the sake of weirdness.
No character development - indeed, even the main character, one Dickie Bird, is barely a sketch.
A “wintery" film, the story is fairly depressing and meanders in a lifeless path.
I screened this theatrically when it first came out.  I had no memory of it because it is not memorable.
Quirky, not comedy.  Quirky, though not particularly enjoyable.
 

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A History Of Horror - 2010 - 6/10

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Three part documentary on cinematic Horror.
1930s Universal, Hammer in the ‘60s, knives in the 80s.
Mark Gatiss chats with historians, surviving relics, and filmmakers.
There are detours throughout, such as the Val Lewton films of the 40s, Euro Horror that paralleled the blood drenched Hammer productions, and major studio releases of the 70s.
I knew every single one of the films referenced, as will most readers of this forum.
A nice introduction, but no undiscovered ground.
 

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The Twelve Trees Of Christmas - 2013 - 5/10

I was in the mood for a “different” Christmas film.
Something along the lines of Chupacabra Vs Baby Jesus Vs Salvation Army Santas.
This is out there, I just know it!  Or it ought to be.
Whilst I searched for holiday horrors, my bride waltzed in and loaded this winner.

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Manhattan library is scheduled to be wrecked for swanky new condos!
Rather than phone Don Trump for advice, plucky librarian decides to save her beloved workplace with a Christmas tree contest!
Oh, and it just happens she lives in the same apartment as the billionaire owner of the library site.  And he is young, handsome, and single.  Another Festivus miracle!
Will the library be saved?  Will love blossom?  Will that little girl take elocution lessons?

Note:  I was fairly bruised by the time credits rolled.
Because I kept asking questions and kept getting shoved, punched or kicked in reply.
“Her librarian character is single, thin, and straight?  All three?”
“Her apartment is huge!  With a view!  On a librarian salary!  Where can I get one?”
“Wait a minute.  Her boss, the head of the library, hooking up with the janitor?”
“Where are all the homeless people?  Street people,  crazy people, bums?”
“What kids read real books?  Those kids don’t have smart phones?”
“Where did contestants buy their trees?  They must be 15 feet high, all of ‘em!”
“Look, Casper Van Dien!  Whoa, is that Scary Spice?”
Yes, it was.  Christmas treacle from the Lifetime Channel.  Caveat emptor.
 

ssj

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Vultural said:
Chupacabra Vs Baby Jesus Vs Salvation Army Santas.

if this movie doesn't exist, then it must be made. for humanity, for the cheeldren.
 

Vultural

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Boomerang - 1947 - 6/10

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Part of 20th Century Fox Noir releases.
Popular minister is murdered on a busy sidewalk by man in coat and hat.
Police proceed to arrest every man who fills said description - poor or unemployed men, naturally.
They zero in on one and wear him down, refusing to let him sleep, until he signs a “confession.”
Case closed!  Citizens can rest easy at nights as democracy triumphs again.
Well ... no ... cause this ain’t no Noir.  It’s an early, preachy Elia Kazan film.
Corrupt small town America, themes that landed Kazan in a hotseat before HUAC.
There are better and more fun Noirs out there, as well as finer Kazan films, though I tend to shun this particular director.
 

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Hell or High Water (2016)

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From the writer of Sicario comes a modest but terrifically satisfying brothers-in-crime flick starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges (who could easily be playing the grandson of his True Grit's Rooster Cogburn). As with Killing Them Softly, to which this could be considered a spiritual sequel (or, rather, cinematic universe companion), the economy, both macro and micro, play a large part. Shades of Cormac MacCarthy, also. Contains deeper ruminations on morality than all three nuTrek films put together.

A-
 

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Thanks for the heads-up on the man in the high castle. LOVED season 1, and am looking forward to season 2. :)
 

ssj

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The Wailing — 2016 — 9/10

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south korean horror that messes with you. a sickness has come to a rural village, but why?

one of my first reactions to reading its netflix summary was, why is this movie 2 hours, 36 minutes long? and once i started watching, i was engrossed. events unfold as a slow burn, but the movie doesn't waste time.

the story kept me disoriented, even about the movie's genre. (korean films are known for genre-bending.) and the resolution isn't spoon-fed to the viewer; it kept me thinking for hours after it was over.

i don't watch a lot of horror, but this has to be one of the best movies i've seen in the past several years, and i'm eager for a rewatch to catch clues i missed the first time around.

the cinematography is gorgeous in its composition and movement, and the characters feel real. there weren't any jump scares that i could recall, and that's a positive in my eyes.

i recommend seeing this cold, if possible. i hadn't read any reviews or even seen a trailer before pressing "play," and i'm glad i didn't.
 
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