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A few reviews

Vultural

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20th Century Women - 2016 - 7/10

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Coming of age story, time/location specific to 1979 Santa Barbara.
Ma (Annette Benning) asks two other females to help raise (watch over) fatherless son.
What really occurs, however, is the three females work out bad stretches using the son as listener, witness, Greek chorus.
The teenage boy is fine because, unlike a man, he simply listens instead of trying to “fix” problems.
Talky, yet this does not drag.  Should girlfriends load this, guys ought to be able to tolerate.
I caught a few minor errors, probably because I was in Southern California in the mid-late 70s.
 

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Fast And Loose - 1939 - 6/10

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Breezy sequel to 1938‘s Fast Company.  Same characters, different lead actors.
Eccentric collector hires rare book dealers to buy rare Shakespeare manuscript from financially strapped tycoon.
There is also a first edition Milton that goes lost then found then lost.
Parties meet at the mansion, along with offspring, stock broker, gangsters, eventually the police.
Correcto mundo.  Killing.  For books!
Fast paced, a jumble of characters, assortment of motives, a plot that borders on gibberish.
Rosalind Russell and Robert Montgomery endearing as book hounds.
Amusing to see folks get riled up over the printed word, since so few buy actual books nowadays.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Loving -  great film that reminds us that when we hope to make America great again, what are we looking for. Only one moment where I questioned the filmmakers: there is a scene towards the end where the Loving children are shown hanging a rope swing. I don't think that imagery was chosen randomly and I didn't find it appropriate. That said, a film everyone's should see. 

7/10
 

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Moe_Syzlak said:
great film that reminds us that when we hope to make America great again, what are looking for. 

What? Am this?
 

Vultural

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The Great Beauty - 2013 - 8/10
AKA - La Grande Bellezza

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Visually striking film of the compromised soul.
Forty years previous, Jep wrote a well received book.
That was his entry to the high life, free pass to the In-Crowd.
He never wrote again, becoming a dilettante and coasting on his laurels.
Dizzying array of sybaritic pleasures, contrast with the sheer futility of living.
Point, all shall die.  So why struggle to be heard, seen, appreciated?
Jep, the gracious, ever-smiling wastrel, is repeatedly paired against creative stragglers, or humans falling into despair, or the frail and elderly, coming face to face with the summation.
Tour de force, though overlong and not always enjoyable.
 

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Summer Of Love - 2003 - 6/10

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Indifferent use of period sights and sounds from San Francisco, circa 1967.
Interviews with still-surviving, oldish spokesmen from the era.
Music soundtrack a mix of San Francisco and Los Angeles groups.  In some cases, cover groups.
Some clips from the Human Be-In, next to nothing from Monterey Pop.
At the end, speakers confessed how very sour it all became, as tens of thousands flooded in.
PBS aired a couple superior docs of that period with Coyote - worth seeking out.
The “summer of love” turns 50 this year.  I predict a lot of rosy memories are queued up.
 

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thecuddlyninja said:
Manchester by the Sea - 9/10

Casey Affleck is otherworldly good in this. Best performance of the year that I've seen so far. [...]

Aye, good film. A-.


Vultural said:
Collateral  - 2004 - 7/10

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Another almost great film. [...] Without going too much into the plot, the ending faltered for me.

Did my first rewatch in many years, and the last third seriously dragged this time. There are three big sequences - the club, the office, and the subway - which could be significantly trimmed with no narrative repercussions. In fact, though it wouldn't be the cleanest ever instance of fan editing, one could cut from

Max shooting Vincent in the head in the office straight to Max and Annie walking into the dawn, thus skipping the superfluous subway sequence entirely.

I'll downgrade it from an A- to a B+.
 

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Gun Crazy - 1949 - 7/10

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After a stint in reform school, then a hitch in the Army, local man goes home.
Bit aimless, only talent he possesses is marksmanship.  His love, guns.
Until the Brit cowgirl arrives with the carnival.  And man, can she shoot.
Their eyes lock, and from there on they ride the Noir highway into darkness.

There is the belief that a good person can redeem a borderline soul.
By extension, a bad individual can corrupt a weak one.
In Gun Crazy, the smoldering Peggy Cummins is not pure evil, but she is bad
She truly loves her man, but she has a big empty inside, as well as a murderous streak.
Guns and sex propel this offbeat Noir, one of the absolute best.
 

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The Windmill Massacre - 2016 - 5/10

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Visitors hop the tour bus to see Holland countryside and picturesque windmills.
Save for a father/son, all are solo passengers.
Deeper into wildwood they go, not noticing the darkening sky until their phones don’t work.
Acceptable Slasher,  well photographed and the cast has a couple recognizable faces
Predictable storylines, with a moral underbelly and limited invention.
Nice use of Dutch folklore and an injection of Japanese superstition.
Not top shelf, but good late night watch.
 

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Bettie Page Reveals All - 2012 - 7/10

I was still active on FBook when Bettie Page died, and I posted a news blurb.
Some of my friends asked,  “Who’s she?”
I uploaded a photo.
They may not have known her name, but they recognized her immediately.
Arguably the greatest pinup model of all time.

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Loving documentary succeeds despite flaws.
First problem, the editing of the first half is below amateur level.
Brief scene or story plays out for a minute or two with accompanying music.
Quick wipe, then another vignette unspools with totally different music.
This buggy bouncing tone mars the fame period, her “glory” years.
There is a well known group of film “faneditors” out there.
At least twelve among them could have produced a more polished, more fluid, result.
Ain’t no use crying, however.  Jumpy is what it is.
Better by far, Page provides most of the narration herself, in a hoarse Southern drawl that bears witness to decades of hard road.
Covering her later years, the director grows more cohesive, and that half is better composed.

Another problem is less tangible, more subjective.
I have been buying Bettie Page “stuff" since the 70s.
When she resurrected in the 80s, collectors gradually learned which photographers peddled her photos,  yet never paid her a dime in royalties, knowing of her poverty.
Some were among the doc interviewees.  Sorta stuck a craw in my throat.
Page’s image is iconic.  Regarding icons, there is an uneasy line between appreciation and appropriation.
Early on, you see individuals borrowing the Bettie look.
Ordinary souls in search of an identity are one thing.  Celebrities out for an extra dollar, though ...
Takes all sorts in this world.

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Even though I am kicking parts of this documentary around, I enjoyed it tremendously.
Of all the Bettie Page shorts, reels, and that godawful movie, this is the best.
Honest, unflinching, packed with sexy images, as well as bitterness.
Not always a fun documentary, but altogether satisfying.
One gets the feeling Bettie departed this world, touched with grace.
 

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Rats - 2016 - 6/10

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Rodentmentary by fluff documentarian Morgan Spurlock.
Rat infestations in New York, New Orleans, Cambodia, the English countryside ...
There’s more and more and more.  How come?
More Humans + More Garbage = Billions More Rats!
Couple of nice tidbits when the biologist extracts tapeworms and botfly larvae from rodents.
Oodles more pathogens that easily jump from rat to human.
Speaking of jumping, wait for the peaceful white toilet moment.
Squeamish alert!  Spurlock borrows a page from Michael Moore when he travels to an Asian bistro.

Note - I’m a city kinda guy.  Our neighborhood has all sorts of midnight varmints.
I have cats.  Usually between 2-4.  Squealers in this show oughta befriend felines.
 

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The Accountant (2016)

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Mix Will Hunting's math skills with Jason Bourne's fighting prowess and a Kryptonian's ability to take multiple direct punches to the middle of the face with total indifference, give them to Batman, square him off against the current Punisher, and you have a rough picture of The Accountant, an absurd but likable B-movie that makes for a solid rental. I wouldn't at all mind a sequel.

B
 

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I also sort of liked The Accountant but I found the story frustratingly muddled. It had a lot of interesting potential and if it had focused on other plot lines than the business one that it chose it almost certainly would have been far better. It could have been about the old man in the prison, or a mob guy sells him out or his brother and he goes for revenge or basically anything that was brought up and then tossed away.
 

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It wanted to be too many things: the aforementioned Borne movies, a John Wick-ish throwback to 80s action, and a serious commentary on autism. The former two made the latter somewhat insulting to me, but overall it was an entertaining diversion.
 

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The Devil’s Hand - 1961 - 4/10

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Guy keeps having nightmare of leggy blonde flouncing around in sheer nightgown in clouds.
By chance (ha!) he walks into a doll shop and sees a doll that looks just like that blonde!
The shopkeeper says it belongs to Bianca, and the guy can deliver it if he wants.
Curvy Bianca, still wearing sheer fabric, greets him at the door then flows against our man.
Before he can say he’s got a mousy girlfriend, his mind goes soft and his trousers go stiff.
For devotees of the great devil god, Gamba, this is a must!
Anyone else, this is crap - see through crap - though it is fun for about an hour.
 

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Blood Father (2016)

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Picture, if you will, a neo-Western in which an aging action icon with serious anger issues must, due to sudden circumstance, protect and transport a daughter he barely knows, who's being hunted by merciless killers. But, unlike Logan, this Mel Gibson flick runs a mere 88 minutes... and I'm sorely tempted to call it the better film. Both movies feature quiet respites in their second acts, but where the former introduced a family of random characters through sheer happenstance, the downtime companions in Blood Father illustrate where our hero came from, and highlights the ways they've grown apart. 

Erin Moriarty (the sacrificial lamb from Jessica Jones) turns in a strong supporting performance, and William H. Macy stands out in a cameo as an alcoholic washout named Kirby, making this an unofficial stealth sequel to Jurassic Park III for pop culture buffs who live to make such connections. But of course the main attraction is Mel himself, in his first starring role since 2012's even more delicious Get the Gringo. Blood Father is a bit less fun, but it's no less artful, and the 60-year-old Gibson is still crazy buff, crazy compelling, and perhaps a bit just plain crazy. Never mind the black and white cut: I now want to see a Fury Road with him as Max even more than I did before. This is another superior low-key action flick from the director of the underrated Assault on Precinct 13 remake.

A-
 

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Prevenge - 2016 - 5/10

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Eight months preggers widow starts hearing voices.
Voices urging revenge against a seemingly disparate group of individuals.
Motives play out, as does the notion of escaped punishment.
Long patches of dull, interrupted by episodes wildly inappropriate, cringe inducing, tasteless.
There it is.  Too much dull, not enough black humour.
BUT - If you’re in the mood for pregnant slasher films, this is a good first choice.
 

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The Naked City - 1948 - 6/10

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Acclaimed Noir, shown in documentary fashion, of a police investigation.
Realism is helped by location shooting across New York.
Open windows and street filming also mean the audio leaves much to be desired.
Story itself is a dry procedural of cops tracking the murderer of a model.
As for Noir camera flourishes and characters, The Naked City is fairly light.
The villains are the most memorable, cops bland.
I was not disappointed, though this reminded me of an OTR show.
 

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The Wing Or Thigh? - 1976 - 6/10
AKA - L'aile ou la cuisse

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Gourmet cuisine clashes with fast food and elephants in French farce.
Editor publisher of annual dining guide intends to retire and leave ratings guide business to his son.
The son, however, prefers being a clown in a childrens circus.
Meanwhile, greedy entrepreneur is snapping up regional cafes and turning into his fast food franchise.
Can the gourmet editor save France from going the American diet route?
Fast, funny, best of all, not oversubbed.

Great sequence finds our critic undercover as an American cowboy, wearing pink rodeo garb.
 
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