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A few reviews

Vultural

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3% - 2016 - 6/10

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Unwashed masses teem and struggle “Inland,” while “Offshore” is an undreamed utopia.
Via “the Process” each coming-of-age bracket are put through mental, physical, psychological tests.
Only 3% pass, and they are allowed to journey to Offshore.
Elysium ... or Soylent Green?
Slow going 8-part parable from Brazil, in Portuguese with HC English subs.
Backstories unfold of unlikeable characters.
E04 was “Lord Of The Flies” excitement, but E05 ground to a standstill.
Near future look is heavy on dystopia, light on SciFi.
Budget and script-writing limitations apparent.
Doors left open for a second season.
 

Vultural

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Florence Foster Jenkins - 2016 - 6/10

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Entertaining, amusing biopic, though I can understand why many turned a deaf ear.
Meryl Streep splendid as daffy, delusional society dame who inflicts her voice onto Carnegie Hall and to wax cylinders for perpetuity.
Mrs Jenkins suffers pitch problems, insecure attack, wobbly control, on and on ...
In this telling, audiences were mildly sympathetic, though giggling occurred in film and in reality.
Hugh Grant equally fine as supportive, protective husband.
Her singing numbers, though, are going to kill many of you.

Movie buffs often have a fondness for bad.
Genuine bad.  Not calculated Sharknado rubbish, bur rather Ed Wood working at the zenith of his powers.
Likewise music.  Singers like Tiny Tim, Claudine Longet, Karen Dalton will be an acquired taste for most, yet I do spin them up from time to time.
Your own “guilty pleasure” taste in music ought to inform you of how you will react to Mrs Jenkins.
 

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'71 (2014)

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If you thought Green Room was a lean, stripped-down thriller, get a load of this thriller about a brand-new British Army private stuck in an unsafe Catholic neighborhood in Belfast. A heck of a yarn! I liked it better than Green Room, because that movie teased us with interesting characters I wanted to get to know better, while I'm perfectly happy to spend less than two hours with these comparative dullards.

B+


The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

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Apparently an hour or so was cut from this Welles-directed crime melodrama, but it's hard to imagine a longer running time improving a fairly nonsensical yarn full of half-baked characters and a byzantine nefarious scheme reveal. Worse yet, the lady could have been from Tampa or Athens, and pretty much nothing would be changed, necessarily. Still worth a look for film noir enthusiasts and fans of striking old-school B&W photography, I guess.

C+
 

Vultural

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It! - 1966 - 5/10

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Museum warehouse burns down and only surviving artifact is tall, black, ugly looking statue.
And ... whenever folks are alone with said statue, they keep dying.
Because, the dark stone is actually a golem!
Cheap looking film with a minimum of actors plays like bad television.
Better - or worse - Roddy McDowell seems to channel Norman Bates and Seymour Krelboyne in portraying the nutso, dotty assistant curator.
Not awful enough to enter the rarefied echelon of Bad Cinema, yet there are enough dreadful proceedings to satisfy aficionados of dreck.
 

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Elle - 2016 - 7/10

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Challenging French fare that defies expectations.
Early on - say first scene - there is a rape (for the sensitive, there are a pair of flashbacks later on, too).
The victim does not phone the police, but simply goes to the clinic the next day and requests an STD panel.
She does not tell friends, family, coworkers.
Partly, she does not know the assailant’s identity (he wore a mask) and she is trying to determine who it is.
Party ... well, there are elements within her, call it the past, that are outside the normal.
Isabelle Huppert captures this rogue soul.  Brittle, icy, razor smart, and possessed with an offhand cunning.
Elle seems to wander aimlessly.  Don't be fooled.  Investigation and retribution are at the core.
 

Vultural

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Dr Mabuse, Der Spieler - 1922 - 7/10
AKA:  Dr Mabuse, The Ganbler

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One of cinema’s earliest, and finest criminal masterminds.
Master stock market manipulator, card sharp, swindler.
Mabuse rules a band of weaklings, drug addicts, and thugs through force of will and ruthless discipline.
Lengthy, quite lengthy at 4 hours, it can be enjoyed over several evenings since it is broken regularly into acts.
Interiors are 20s Deco, while exteriors are an Expressionistic rats maze of narrow back lanes and secret gambling dens.
Tempo, which gallops ahead during the first half, relaxes in the second when Mabuse, the epitome of calculated control, tilts to obsession and megalomania.
The entire mood and tone is steeped in the exuberance and decadence of Weimar Berlin.  That, and ennui, sheer boredom of living in an accelerated life.
Metropolis and M enjoy greater acclaim, but this has always been my preferred Lang.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge delivers a bravura, unforgettable performance as the diabolical Mabuse.
 

Vultural

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The Red Queen - 2015 - 6/10

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Splashy, lavish drama of Soviet fashion models through the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras.
Focus is on the striking Regina Kolesnikova, premier model of the Soviet house.
Haunted by her past, she drinks, abuses drugs, falls into bleak despair, bordering on madness.
Most of the other models around her are equally messed up.  Soap opera territory.
Heavy handed melodrama boasts wildly over the top acting.

Real life glamour queen Regina Zbarska, the quintessential Soviet runway model of the 50s and 60s, was internationally famous.  Whispers persist she was also a secret KGB operative.  If so, she had access to Western designers, politicians, ambassadors.  Everyone.  KGB officials have neither confirmed, nor denied those rumors.

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Difficult to assess this production, which I enjoyed beginning to finish (I am a long Vogue subscriber).
As noted, the acting is broad to the point of histrionics.
Since I had seen many of the actors in other Russian movies, I wanted to blame inept directing.
On the other hand, this could well be camp homage to Douglas Sirk’s florid excesses.
Set designs are saturated Technicolor, evocative of overripe MGM musicals (there are musical numbers in Red Queen, as well).  After so many grayish looking US and Euro shows, this dazzles by comparison.
The studio press release also promised an exaggerated telling of Regina Zbarska which this certainly is.
 

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Lion - 2016 - 7/10

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Deep in his twenties, the young man goes in search of himself.
Rather, his past, who he had been before his adoption by an Australian couple.
As a young boy, he wandered from his small village, ending up hundreds of miles away in Calcutta.
There, he is another runaway, one of tens of thousands, existing on the streets, smiling predators on every corner.
Engrossing story, based on real life.
Harrowing for any parent who ever lost sight of their child for a moment, let alone an hour, or twenty years.
 

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Faulks On Fiction - 2011 - 6/10

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Author Sebastian Faulks strolls through memorable character roles in novels.
1)  The Hero = Tom Jones - Robinson Crusoe - Sherlock
2)  The Lover = Darcy - Heathcliff - Tess - Chatterley
3)  The Snob = Emma - Pip - Jeeves - Bond
4)  The Villain = Fagin - Fosco - Dracula - Steerpike.
Passages are read aloud.  Critics and writers discuss the novel, focusing on the topic character.
For non-reading souls, there are movie and BBC adaptation clips for every example.
Aside from bookworms, this is not essential viewing.
 

Vultural

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SiREN - 2016 - 5/10

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B-Horror flick with imaginative touches.
Quartet of fratboy males out celebrating stag party for soon-to-wed mate.
They find a Gothic sporting house nestled in remote backwoods.
Skimpy hotties, rooms catering to perversion, occult entertainment.
Running the brothel is necromancer Nyx (homage to Lord Of Illusions?) who peddles a special girl.
Picture her as a lesser demon, if you will, the ravenous kind.

Despite low expectations early on, my hopes rallied, only to wither in disappointment.
Budget restrictions aside, filmmakers are adroit in imbuing this with atmospheric quality.
The whole Nyx and outré environment is more than one typically sees in fratboy horror.
Naw, the film is sunk by the four friends, terrible actors all, given puerile dialogue.
 

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Death In Paradise:  S01 - 2011 - 6/10

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Fish out of water detective series.
Tightass London inspector transferred to Caribbean Honoré.
Apparently that is a murder destination as there is killing every episode.
Always plenty of suspects, but our hero hones in on insignificant details - and - voilà!
Throughout, he misses cold, rain sodden London and gripes about sunshine and warmth.
Easy to take - easy to forget.  Multiple seasons followed.
 

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Anthropoid - 2016 - 7/10

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Overlooked World War II thriller about Operation Anthropoid.
The plot to assassinate SS Obergruppenführer of Czechoslovakia, Reinhard Heydrich.
Told entirely from the Czech resistance point of view.
The “based on” elements are easy to identify and ignore (such as any love interests).
Measured pace spotlights planning, internal arguing, and constant fear of betrayal.
Unlike other films, this offers the buildup, the event, the aftermath.
Breathtaking cinematography, by the way.
 

Vultural

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Alice In Acidland - 1969 - 5/10

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Dreary warning of moral turpitude.
High school graduate Alice goes to pool party with friend.
Poolside, Alice smokes her first cigarette.
Menfolk, ignore her and surround the curvy blonde, who, we discover later, is an outta control sex addict.
Alice and her friend go from tobacco to alcohol to climbing naked into the bathtub, groping and kissing.
Tobacco, booze, what’s next?  You got it!  Marijuana, swinging nympho sex, moccasins and Indian beads.
Sleazy, black n white sexploitation quickie offers a steady flow of female nudity.
Black n white until Alice hits LSD!  Then it’s colour female nudity, often double or triple exposed!

Dull film has a better thought-out soundtrack than it deserves.
Going from cocktail jazz (think pianist Paul Smith) to percussion to hippie lite to porno grindhouse to trippin’ psychedelia.
 

bionicbob

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AIRWOLF: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray

Long time fan of this series.  It is the first show I remember recording and saving all the episodes as a kid.  Owned the tv movie on VHS.  Later bought season one on dvd through Columbia House and eventually later season dvd sets when they were released.

So when the region one blu-rays by Mill Creek were announced I was hesitant.  Do I really want to double dip, or triple dip, in this instance?  Plus, Mill Creek is notorious for being cheap on production and packaging, so would I feel ripped off?  But in a moment of impulse buying weakness I picked up the complete collection a couple of weeks ago for the amazing price of 40 bucks!

So was it worth it?

In terms of blu-ray quality, for a show over 30 years old it is pretty decent.  It is definitely better than my Airwolf original dvd releases.  But compared to my beloved BATTLESTAR GALACTICA which was released on blu a couple of years back, and is even older than Airwolf, it pales in comparison.  Classic BSG on blu looks amazing, I would give its video quality a high 9 out of 10.  Airwolf, I would give a 7.5.  The typical talking head scenes show their age, but the aerial combat scenes, with the blue skies and open horizons look fantastic.   Also, the framing of this older series compliments 16x9 nicely if you want to zoom in to fill up your big screen tv, not too much is cut off and as I said the air combat looks incredible.

No surround sound audio.  No bonus features.  Each blu has 5 or 6 episodes.  Each season is in its own plastic case, though the disks are stacked on top of each other, not separated.  Though this is slightly better than Mill Creek's usual of putting all their dvds is paper slips and piled on top of each other.

How does Airwolf still hold up?

Airing from 1984 to 1988, the series was created by Donald P. Bellisario (Magnum PI, NCIS, JAG, Tales of the Gold Monkey) and starred Jan-Michael Vincent as String Fellow Hawke (what a name!!!) and Ernest Borgnine (nicest guy ever!!) and Alec Cord.  And features one of the greatest tv themes ever by Sylvester Levay.  It was the most expensive tv series on the air at the time, with Vincent pulling down a pay check of $250,000 per episode.   

Season One
This season is pretty damn near perfect 80s action drama.  In many ways, it was ahead of its time.  Dark, moody, sophisticated, political and gritty.  A cold war espionage thriller grounded with complicated and engaging characters performed by a charismatic cast.   Only 12 episodes as a mid season series replacement and all are still highly entertaining and rewatchable. 10/10

Season Two
Like all networks, CBS could not leave a winning formula alone, and ordered the show to be less dark, less topical and less international.  More domestic threats were created, though over all the series still has a nice balance between lighter fare and some very substantive grim episodes. And even though the show's very formulaic story structure (every final act was Airwolf in combat) was obvious, solid character writing and casting kept the show very entertaining.  Jean Bruce Scott joined the cast as a potential love interest, but that never materialized since Scott and Vincent reportedly did not like each other.  Also, Vincent's abuse of drugs and alcohol were significantly affecting his performance.   8/10

Season Three
After fighting with the network for two seasons, Bellisario departed the series and the show was watered down even more to be family friendly.  It was not Knight Rider-level drama, but it was not far off either.  Also, Vincent had sadly spiralled even deeper into drug abuse.  Many times over the years I have watched a season one ep back to back with a late season 3 ep, and it is shocking to see the obvious deterioration in the man.  It is so sad.  There is a handful of decent adventures, but most are forgettable.  6.5/10

Season Four:
CBS cancelled Airwolf, but the rights were picked by the USA network for a fourth season.  Vincent appears in the premiere but is killed and replaced by Barry Van Dyke as Hawke's missing brother SinJin.  All new, boring, bland cast, almost no continuity to the previous seasons and seemingly zero tv budget.  All the Airwolf footage was recycled from the previous seasons and the stories were average fare.   Was this last season as horrible as many say?  On it's own, it ok, mindless entertainment.   There are actually a few episodes I enjoyed.  But when compared to the previous season one and two, this just painful to watch.  5/10

So is the complete series on blu ray worth buying for only two out four great seasons???  Even at 50bucks, that isn't a bad price, considering the original dvd season sets used to cost $25-$35 a piece.  And as I said, the picture upgrade is noticeable.  It isn't awesome but it is an improvement.  So if you are an Airwolf fan or have been curious, I can think of worse ways of blowing 40 to 50 bucks.

http://https://vimeo.com/116851909[/video]
 

Vultural

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The Woman With The Hungry Eyes - 2006 - 6/10

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Overcooked documentary of Theda Bara, the original Vamp.
Hers is old fashioned, out-of-date by the 20s, dell’‘arte acting.  Highly melodramatic.
Modern actors recreate scenarios, and amateurish animation surfaces from time to time.
Out of place, a newsreel crawls across the screen bottom frequently.  Strange.
Better, this doc has clips from her few, very few, surviving movies, and loads of stills.
Alas, much of this has the feel of a padded homework assignment.
That said, this is perhaps the best documentary we shall ever see on Ms Bara.
The bulk of Bara’s films were destroyed in a 1937 fire at the Fox warehouse.
Much as I am kicking this, this doc is a must for Silent film fans!
 

dangermouse

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I absolutely LOVED Airwolf as a kid. The howl as Airwolf came out to save the day! Woo!
But it went completely crap. :-(
But season 1. Wow.
I made loads of Lego Airwolf and other Airwolf inspired "Surprise I looked like a normal truck/car/boat/spaceship but I'm loaded to the gills with weapons" stuff. Ah, good times. :)
 

Vultural

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Captain Fantastic - 2016 -  6/10

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Survivalist, home schooled family climbs into the van and heads to the city for Mom’s funeral.
Cultural encounter between “visionary” family and the “ordinary” American world.
Well educated children who have learned to process knowledge vs No Child Left Behind.
The physically fit tribe surrounded by gassy, sugary waddlers.
A bit one-sided, more so idealistic, aimed to please an audience of parents.
Aspects of non-social skills barely hinted at, nor is the reality of how they fund their lifestyle.
I enjoyed this while watching, immediately second-guessed once credits rolled.

Note:  I have witnessed and worked with home-schooled kids, some of whom suffer abysmal social skills.
Note:  I fully understand why home-school parents do not want their children in public school.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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I thought he movie certainly dealt with the idea that the kids would be socially maladjusted. It's been a bit since I saw it, but doesn't the oldest son even berate his father for making them into "freaks"? The money thing was an issue for me as well, but I simply assumed mom had a trust fund or something given how rich her family was. I thought it was a good flick but not as important as it wanted to be.
 

Vultural

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^ It was the second son who rebelled.  The eldest had serious Admissions offers. ^

Nocturnal Animals - 2016 - 7/10

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Betrayal, death, revenge.  Template of the thriller.  This outing, two interweaving narratives.
Glossy, sterile Hollywood Hills and the midnight scrub of West Texas.
Los Angeles artist receives a manuscript from her ex.
As she reads the dark tale, she overlays herself, her daughter, and her ex onto the protagonists.
Middle of the night, family travels the backroads, and encounters drunken joyriders.
Mistake piles onto mistake with grim consequences.
Academy honchos totally snubbed this one, save for a riveting Michael Shannon as the hard lawman.
 

bionicbob

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dangermouse said:
I absolutely LOVED Airwolf as a kid. The howl as Airwolf came out to save the day! Woo!
But it went completely crap. :-(
But season 1. Wow.
I made loads of Lego Airwolf and other Airwolf inspired "Surprise I looked like a normal truck/car/boat/spaceship but I'm loaded to the gills with weapons" stuff. Ah, good times. :)

Good times, indeed.  :)

Stumbled upon this tidbit today, some guy is making an Airwolf documentary...
http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE5OPeDab2w&feature=youtu.be[/video]

https://twitter.com/AirwolfDoc

https://www.facebook.com/airwolfdoc/
 
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