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A few reviews

Vultural

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I Bury The Living - 1958 - 4/10

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Thriller without thrills, Horror without horrors.
Man assigned to run local cemetery finds he might have the power of life and death!
Office has a big map layout of plots and stickpins.
White pins for reservations,  black pins for planted residents.
When he mixes up pins on the map, folks start dying!
Hopeful premise ruined by the man”s (Richard Boone) dismal guilt complex.
Plods along, too talky, stagebound.  Feels like rejected “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode.
 

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Miskatonic University - 2014 - 6/10

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Lovecraft aficionados have already spied the title.
Atmospheric HPL short, touching the Kadath, Cthulhu, and Nyarlathotep settings.
Set in the 1920s, a young scholar arrives at MU, hoping to get access into famed library.
The Dean vigorously refuses, yet there are unsettling activities across the campus.
Excellent use of Maine locations, period fashions, and the eldritch library.
A couple of erotic angles in this, implied and overt, definitely not Lovecraftian.
Covers a fair degree of territory and maintains disoriented mood throughout.
Only complaint - very small - is that at thirty-four minutes, it is about thirty minutes too short.
 

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^ Nice! Any advice on where to see it?


37 Days (2014)

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Three-part BBC Two series dramatizing the 1914 efforts, particular those of British Foreign Secretary Edward Gray (Ian McDiarmid), to prevent inevitable payback for the assassination of a certain Austro-Hungarian archduke from snowballing into a Continental conflagration. Great perfs by McDiarmid and Nicholas Asbury as First Lord of the Admiralty Churchill. (Fans of aging men entering and exiting offices, your ship has come in.) The German Kaiser wants a small war; his army chief wants a bigger one, and Russia's Tsar would perhaps like something in between. My only real complaint is a few matte paintings of all these capitals would have been nice, as establishing shots consisting exclusively of modern photography of their most iconic monuments give the transitions a boxed-in feel that doesn't match the vividness of the dialogue and acting on hand. Available for US DVD purchase on Amazon.

A-
 

TM2YC

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^ I watch all things BBC but somehow I hadn't even heard of that. They were putting out a vast season of WWI related centenary stuff at the time, so I must have missed it in the shuffle. Sounds terrific and out on blu-ray too. Thanks.
 

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^ My pleasure! Let us know what you think of it. :)

Vultural said:
Testament Of Youth - 2015 - 7/10

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Latest adaptation of Vera Brittain’s World War I memoir.
Brittain, presumably part of the rural gentry, dreams of becoming a writer and being admitted to Oxford.
Events go her way at first, though one is reminded of simmering tensions in Europe throughout.
Gradually, however, the conflagration across the Channel empties her world.
Film picks up pace as the conflict grows.  First part of the movie is a bit too low key.
The romantic leads lack chemistry, as well as intensity.
Second half is altogether sharper and grimmer.
Ending felt rushed.  Investigate the 1979 version for a fuller aftermath.

A movie of stupendous beauty in almost every shot*, starring a formidable actress of equally stupendous beauty in Alicia Vikander. Which is just as well, as there's little in the way of wit from the characters or dialogue, though Taron Egerton has tons of charisma, Colin Morgan makes a big impression in just a few scenes, and Hayley Atwell's brief cameo as a no-nonsense but good-humored nurse deserves a spin-off of her own. In fact, just about the only cast member who isn't strikingly good-looking is the the mushy-faced romantic lead played by Kit Harington, whose performance is likewise merely adequate. But maybe that's intentional? What matters is our heroine loves him, and it isn't necessary that we share her enthusiasm, and maybe even important that we don't, as her feelings are her own.

An obvious companion piece to the superior Atonement, which is much more cinematically daring, with characters we do fall in love with, and very much feel for. But that movie is granted license by the moral and emotional clarity of its "Good" war to be operatic in its emotion, whereas all the Great War merits is a dirge. Apart from Vikander's performance, what makes this otherwise unremarkable movie a genuinely good film is a striking sequence in which the central pair are reunited, but, after the young man's seen combat, he can barely even feign kindness to the woman he loves, and which historical reality, in an eye-rolling display of on-the-nose symbolism, has named "Brittain."

I agree with San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle's positive review: "To see this film is to understand — not in an intellectual way, but in a direct, visceral way — why the British ignored the threat of Adolf Hitler for so long. In World War I, a generation learned that war was not the answer. In World War II, another generation learned that pacifism was not the answer. It would seem that there just isn’t an answer."

B+

* (Has there ever been an aesthetic disaster worse then plastic? It sometimes seems that the whole world has forever lost a staggering amount of beauty since it went mainstream. I don't wish for glass glasses, and I know for a fact that without modern medicine I'd have died as a baby, but still...)
 

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Mystic_River_poster.jpg

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F#ck these movies.
Mystic River: Misguided musical score, I wanted the main hook with the car accident/murder to be shown instead of talked about, the ending was unbelievable in a bad way.
The Invasion: Some was so bad its good, and I dug some of the sci fi invasion of the body snatcher elements but in the end it couldn't excape its dumb'dness.
Perfect Storm: Sure some of the effects are very nicely done, but when the captain says "well we can stay safe and live by avoiding the storm and then come back when its safe, or head right into a hurricane and die probably" not long after catching a swordfish with a pike in the eye and then hacking the shit out of it with a machete whilst laughing about it like a bunch of drunk horny assholes, fuck that movie.
 

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Just A Sigh - 2013 - 6/10
AKA - Le Temps de l'aventure

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Struggling actress returns to Paris for audition.
Forgets her phone charger, travels with insufficient funds.
The casting director even inquires, ungallantly, how old she is.
Nonetheless, she spies a fellow damaged soul on the train, and crashes a funeral to meet him.
“Missed love” tale of passing ships.  The broken hearted and the abandoned lover.
Bittersweet, yet hopeful story of trying to connect with another.
 

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Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution - 2005 - 9/10

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Outstanding six part documentary of infamous camp.
Digging deeper than the usual horror parade, this shows the early role of the camp, before its metamorphosis into a killing machine.
At first it was intended for political prisoners, then Russian POWs, eventually Jews and all enemies.
Actors employed, as well as reenactments, though producers restrained themselves.
One unforgettable sequence is a lengthy photo montage of children heading into annihilation.
Another sequence is of a camp survivor, returning to her village, finding her home and possessions appropriated by neighbors.
Pointed reminder for idealistic souls who declare such things could never happen again!
 

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I, Daniel Blake - 2016 - 6/10

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Infuriating tale of everyman Daniel Blake.
Carpenter, out of work after a heart attack, caught in the “medical care” bureaucracy.
Mr Blake fills out forms, meets Nat’l Health reps, watches his money and time decline.
He tries to remain cheerful and earnest throughout, but the system is broken and pitiless.
Those of you familiar with director Ken Loach know what to expect.
Others, this will be a frustrating, enervating slog.
 

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Vultural said:
I, Daniel Blake - 2016 - 6/10

Infuriating... frustrating, enervating slog.

Really, how so? I thought it was full of anger, fire and humanity... amongst all the misery.
 

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Ike: Countdown to D-Day (2004)

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Exactly What it Says on the Tin - a solid, competently made, look at the planning of Operation Overlord and the quiet professionalism of Supreme Allied Commander Europe Eisenhower (Tom Selleck), with roughly equal time for each. A New York Times review of this A&E TV movie (commercial break fades and all) seemed more concerned with bashing the product for having been written and produced by a rare right-wing showbiz player around the height of Iraq War fever, but I didn't find anything objectionable about it, apart from a mild bit of Greatest Generation schmaltz. A decent, minor diversion for WW2/military history buffs.

B
 

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TM2YC said:
I, Daniel Blake - 2016 - 6/10
... I thought it was full of anger, fire and humanity... amongst all the misery.

Ah, perhaps you are familiar with Loach's films and anticipated the tone.
And for many, dealing with any health bureaucracy spike their blood pressure.
I don't see your flag, so hopefully your healthcare is excellent.
II found Mr Blake to be "...full of anger, fire and humanity..."
but his attempts to hold on were anguished.
 

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Forbidden Planet - 1956 - 7/10

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Earth expeditionary force travels to far flung, scientific outpost, which has become incommunicado.
On arrival, officers meet the lone survivors:  the colony’s linguist and his daughter.
All other scientists and colonials had been slaughtered by a mysterious, unstoppable force.
Long dormant, the murderous force reawakens.
Your grandfather’s SciFi, vintage yet quite watchable.
Eerie electronic score, good special effects (consider the year), and planet interior sets that are still impressive.
One of the few psychological SciFi’s, though that aspect is a bit heavy handed.
 

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Bleu - 1993 - 7/10

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After her husband and daughter die in a car accident. the surviving wife shuts down.
She cuts off all emotional channels, begins to discard reminders.
Juliette Binoche amazing as the soul who bottles, sidesteps, and destroys.
An extremely cold film with well thought out set design and photography.
Second of Kieslowski’s “Couleurs” trilogy is perhaps the hardest to take.
Penetrating look at grief and loss.
 

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie - 2016 - 6/10

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I thought I had escaped, that this was forgotten, then my wife spied it in a bargain bin for 66₯.
Tired comedy that is twenty years too late and tries too hard.
Apart from Lumley, the cast has visibly aged.  Physically, and their characters seem much older.
Patsy, though, is in fine form.
Story is of Edwina chasing Kate Moss to be her agent, idly killing Moss, then fleeing to France.
There are laughs in this, more in the final act.
If one condensed the best jokes and lines, you would have a great half hour episode.
Bloated and soggy.  Stick with the original series.
 

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100 Streets - 2016 - 6/10

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Ensemble cast of three couples play out a few days of their lives.
Two pairs navigate difficulties in their marriages.
The third is an unlikely relationship between an aging actor and a younger man with poetic gifts.
Light interweaving of stories, but this is not, say, Love Actually.
Because most struggle throughout, the film can be a sour pill.
I disliked some of the plot contrivances near the end, felt like the writers ran out of gas.
Hour and a half of drama.
 

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World War One - 1964 - 7/10

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One hundred years ago, the United States entered the “war to end all wars.”
This documentary highlights the American reaction to, and subsequent involvement in World War I.
Robert Ryan narrates and this has a wealth of newsreels and images, many seldom seen before.
Episodes also highlight the less traveled:  the occupation of Belgium, the Lusitania, the Jutland naval campaign, Germany’s meddling in Mexico to distract America, home front disorder, and an early word - slackers.
Also detailed look at the aftermath.  Reparations against Germany, along with Allied interference with the new nation, Soviet Union, aiding the “Whites” and sowing the seeds of distrust that grow to this day.

There are several outstanding documentaries on World War I.
The finest in The Great War (1964), 26 episodes with interviews of still surviving veterans.
This documentary, World War One, covers slightly different ground and should appeal to Yanks.
A third, The First World War (2003), is excellent at covering the “world” aspects of the conflict, displaying battles outside of Europe.
 

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Their Finest - 2017 - 6/10

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Britain during the Blitz.  Political powers request a morale boosting film.
“Find a good story, maybe add an angle the Yanks will be drawn to.”
A Dunkirk news item is investigated, writers start fleshing out the story, studio honchos try to compromise with various Ministries.
Actors, fans, obstacles, and throughout, a rain of bombs.
Nostalgia territory, with nods towards Day For Night, as well as Foreign Correspondent.
 

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Skinhead - 2016 - 6/10

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Oi!  Oi!  Oi!
Well before the Oi culture, Neo-Nazis, and yob association, London skinheads were kicking boots with Jamaican mates, swaying to reggae and ska, shouting at football matches.
At the matches, however, Northern firms spied and appropriated the cuts, boots, jackets, but not the tolerance.
Informative documentary shows the 60s beginnings of shaved heads, the near disappearance, the Punk associations, then catching the eye of the National Front.
For those who think they know Skinhead culture, they probably don’t.
 

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Maigret’s Dead Man - 2016 - 6/10

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Man, what a pleasant surprise.
Paris, circa 1930s.  Rowan Atkinson returns as the dour Inspector Maigret.
A serial killer terrorizes the French countryside.
Maigret loans most of his crew to assist, yet withholds two assistants and himself for an unrelated underworld killing.
This show is more assured than Maigret Sets A Trap as actors grow into roles.
In many ways, this is a darker story with a more intricate plot.
If you liked the first installment, you will like this.  On the fence?  Risk it.
 
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