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A few reviews

Vultural

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Code Inconnu: Récit Incomplet de Divers Voyages - 2000 - 7/10
AKA - Code Unknown

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Closer translation might be “Unknown Code: Incomplete Stories of Diverse Voyages.”
Brilliant, if challenging film, with scant attempt at linearity.
Tangled storylines weave in and out, clash, or disappear abruptly.
Characters do not listen, do not want to listen. are distracted, are absorbed in their glorious selves.
Communication, human’s so-called forte, is near-impossible.  (Deaf children open and close the movie.)
Haneke turns us (cinema viewers) into clueless onlookers.
We can assume backstories, fabricate motivations, or tune out and scroll the phone.
 

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Blood And Roses - 1960 - 7/10
AKA - Et Mourir de Plaisir

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Beautiful retelling of Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla,” updating the setting to modern Italy.
Carmilla is despondent over the approaching nuptials of her cousin Leopold, whom she loves.
She is moody, fascinated with a more superstitious past.
After a fireworks show gone awry, Carmilla, drawn to the cemetery, encounters a supposedly long dead vampire, Millarca.  Unsettling developments ensue.
Erotically charged film, sans nudity.  Sets, costumes, and fall outdoors are all gorgeous, though the print I viewed seemed washed out.  My copy was also dubbed English.
The final act is surreal and imaginative.  One of Vadim’s best films.
 

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Victor Frankenstein (2015)

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Look... look. Is this a good movie? No, it is not. The direction is uneven, some scenes are oddly overlit, the Igor viewpoint character makes little sense, and the third act is a confused jumble that both seems to rush through the whole classic story, followed by a random and pointless sequel tease.

But. But. Does McAvoy positively gobble the scenery, turning in perhaps the most gloriously ham-filled performance since Michael Shannon in 2012's Premium Rush, and is the movie worth at least one viewing before you die on the basis of that alone?

Oh, hell yes, it is.

C+


War Machine (2017) - Netflix Original

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Netflix's priciest original film to date (reported $60m budget), with the biggest name lead (Brad Pitt), is a somewhat (but not greatly?) exaggerated tale of how a spicy Rolling Stone article got Afghanistan War overseer General Stanley McChrystal sacked by President Obama in 2010. With a seething, boiling supporting turn by Anthony Michael Hall (above, far right) as currently politically embroiled General Michael Flynn. The historical names have been changed to protect the... persons involved, though we also get Ben Kingsley playing a caricature of Karzai (as Karzai), and news footage of Obama as Obama is used.

The movie is satirical in the Big Short vein, with a large dollop of Doctor Strangelove. Pitt's performance is wildly hammy, almost as much as McAvoy's Frankenstein, and has proven critically divisive. Indeed, the movie seems to have made not much of a splash at all; Netflix numbers are proprietary, but it's hard to believe this particular gamble paid off: it's too serious and tragic to be a word-of-mouth sleeper hit, but too goofy to be Netflix's answer to Amazon's Manchester by the Sea in awards consideration. Maybe the country would be in more receptive mood to the pointed barbs had Hillary won - and yet her loss probably makes the movie even timelier (again: the Michael Flynn connection).

Myself, I loved it, and laughed loudly throughout. A fascinating look at the weird life of top-level US military officials - revered and coddled by their personal staffs, yet rigidly constrained in what they can publicly say, let alone act. A damned entertaining and smart film to ought to be viewed and chewed over by families nationwide.


A-
 

Rogue-theX

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v1.bTsxMTE4OTUzMTtqOzE3NDU0OzEyMDA7ODAwOzEyMDA


Dracula Untold. Didn't much care for this, wasted potential, nonsense happenings, one incredibly stupid edit that had me saying "WHAT!?! WHAT????? WhAt! WHAAAAT??????" for a few minutes. I didn't get the ending at all. I loved the costumes, the sets, the matte shots, the vampire women, the bats and all that but it ended up being a real mess for me and half the action was literally unintelligible, the other half of the action is BAT SH!T STUPID (pun intended?) and lazy, tagline or quote on the poster should have read "Its dark. So dark that you can't see anything. BOO"! I just didn't like this one. I mean I was starting to get into but it just got worse as it went on.
3 out of 10
 

Vultural

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Atami Police Investigators - 2010 - 6/10
AKA - Atami no Sôsakan // 熱 海 の 捜 査 官

A bus carrying four schoolgirls disappears into the  fog along an empty stretch of road.
The vehicle is never found, police are stumped.

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Three years later, one girl returns, soon the bus is found, events escalate.
Catalyst for events might be the arrival of two agents from the WAI.
J-drama similar to one of the X-Files shaggy dog episodes.
Twin Peaks fans will identify the assortment of local oddballs and bizarre settings.

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Leads and false trails grow at a dizzying pace.  The ceramics club fronts teen prostitutes.  The giant fish.  Why does one boy pose nude in the mostly girls school?  What is in that static filled cassette?  Where did the religious cult originate?
Musical score swings from choral arrangements to sleazy blues to elegant Satie.
Onion layer mystery, laced with very Japanese humor and irreverence.
 

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White: Melody Of The Curse - 2011 - 5/10
AKA - Hwa-i-teu: Jeo-woo-eui Mel-lo-di // 화 이 트: 저 주 의 멜 로 디

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Oft told story of one artist appropriating another’s creativity
This set in the K-Pop competitive sphere.
Pink Dolls have never broken big and face their last chance at success.
Backdancer Eun-joo finds a VHS labeled “White” of an unknown group, auditioning a catchy song.
Pink Dolls claim the song, update the arrangement and choreography, fight over who sings lead.
And then, one by one, disasters strike group members.
The music is hook laden, the girls are cute, but this is predictable Horror.
May work better for Asian pop buffs, or frighten ten year olds.
 

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Vultural said:
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.

I agree there's a lot to like here, with some strong directing, acting, and (perhaps most notably) sound design moments - but there's also a lot that, unfortunately, doesn't work, even allowing for the evident nothing budget. Apparently shot in 2014, (zero-cost) color grading appears non-existent; it looks like a student short from the early 2000s, and unwelcome suggestions of modernity creep into the script and line deliveries. A noble effort, to be sure, but not one I can recommend to non-HPL fans. B-

The following HPL-centric video essay, however, I can and do commend to everyone:
 

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Parasyte: Part 1 - 2014 - 6/10
AKA - Kiseijuu // 寄 生 獣

A silent invasion slithers into Japan.
Translucent, millipede like creatures burrow into ear canals, devour brains, take over human bodies.
Once in control, their appetite for fresh meat takes over.

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High school boy, Shinichi Izumi, is only partially infected as parasyte, Migi, inserts into his hand instead of skull.
The two have arguments, petty and philosophical, embarrassing and ethical.
More light-hearted than anticipated, with awkward teenage behavior and youthful romance.
Based on a 1988 manga, which I have not read, so I have no idea how faithful this was.
Too juvenile for my taste, yet had memorable scenes throughout..

Parasyte: Part 2 - 2015 - 6/10
Kiseijuu: Kanketsuhen // 寄 生 獣 完 結 編

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A different, blacker film altogether, right down to the somber music.
The sequel is filled with action and carnage.
Younger characters have grown up.  Parasytes are trying to find a way to co-exist or conquer.
Humans have gotten wise to the parasites and unleash the firearms.
Once again, there are moral discussions about a given species “right to exist.”
(I recalled similar themes in 1985‘s Robotech, particularly the third section involving the Invid   Japan has always struck me as a rather insular nation, so I wonder what was going on in the 80s there.)
Part 2 was more satisfying for me, the characters more assured, with less jokes.
Good cheer is replaced with violence.  Possibly an ugly ride for those expecting Part 1.
 

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Gaith said:
War Machine (2017) - Netflix Original


A-

I thought it was ok. It was very good at the comedic scenes, very good at the dramatic scenes, but not very good at putting the two together. Some films can pull off an inconsistent comedy/drama tone, I'm not sure if this was one of them. It needed to pick a tone and stick with it.

I HATED the intro. I was watching it in a pub on my phone during the intro, and I was so bored during the first 10 minutes I had finished my pint before Scoot Mcnairy had finished his boring expository dialogue, with a cadence so monotone it puts the guy that made "The Story of Film: An Odyssey" to shame.

That being said, the whole film was leading to the punchline, and what an excellent punchline it was.

When/if Netflix do a physical media of this, I'd like to see an "Unaired Pilot: War Machine" that's stripped of all the drama.
 

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Collateral Beauty - 2016 - 6/10

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Opening sequence, young entrepreneur inspires his crew with his credo of “Love, Time, and Death.”
Next scene, three years on, after personal tragedy he is an emotional zombie, building elaborate domino cascades while the company perishes.
Partners concoct a strategy to wrest voting control away from him.
The hire three stage actors to play the above mentioned, Love - Time - Death.
Although dark fare, there is a fairytale element in this reminiscent of Touched By An Angel.
Large name cast tries hard with fluff, better suited to Hallmark or Lifetime channels.
 

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Eglima Sta Paraskinia - 1960 - 6/10
AKA - Murder Backstage // Εγκλημα στα Παρασκήνια

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Fun Greek Noir.  Popular club beauty is killed in her dressing room.
Knife still inside, doors and windows locked.  Aha, locked room mystery!
Police interrogate performers and employees, jealous rivals and stage door johnnys.
Most of the actual investigating, however, comes from a newspaper owner.
Nose for a scandal, or attempting to cover something up?
He bustles from swank nightclubs to strip joints to tenements, many still rubble after Nazi occupation.
Fast paced, photography full Noir, though dialogue is more light and playful.

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Vikings_Season_2.jpg

Vikings season 2
Better than the first season, which I really liked though that season was too slow. Looking forward to watching more of this show when I can. I'll give season 2 a 7.5 outta 10

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Robot & Frank
Awesome movie. 8 outta 10

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Doctor Strange
Very cool but just too much stuff for me to get into it, too dense. You know how on say a metal album, or hard rock album, how its nice to have a slower song now and then to take a break? This movie needed more of that, or not as many great ideas in one movie, ideas that could be used in another movie maybe, I dunno... just too much stuff in one movie for me. Great use of Pink Floyd's Interstellar Overdrive, Stan Lee cameo was especially good this time. Interesting characters. 6 out of 10 I guess, but I want to watch it again some time, maybe you need to watch this one twice.
The colored glowing light effects in these movies lately has been beaten to death, please don't use it so much, its not magical when you see the same effect in every movie, time to dazzle us with something new guys, come on! You can do it!
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Camera Store - 2017 - 6/10

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1994, Christmas Eve day.  Amateur hour for procrastinating shoppers.
Set inside a mall back when malls were popular and people still bought film rolls.
Change is in the air, however.  Digital.
The two burnouts who run the dying store have squandered their ideas, their dreams, their youth.
Despite some acid dialogue, this Yule timed yarn is devoid of good will toward men.
Christmas, mean spirited and most unmerry.
Production screams theatre play.
 

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Sure, kid, why do you think they call it dope?

Three “drug” films from the Silent era.

For His Son - 1912 - 6/10

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D W Griffith warns against the dangers of cola, especially DopoCoke.
An entrepreneur adds cocaine to his cola drink, hoping to leave a healthy business to his son.
Sales are robust, including those to the son who becomes addicted.
Note - At one time, Coca-Cola’s recipe included 9 milligrams of cocaine per 7 ounce bottle.
Although the amount gradually diminished, Coke did not become cocaine free until 1929.

The Devil’s Needle - 1916 - 6/10

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Artist, in search of inspiration, borrows his model’s needle.
Wow, does that pep up the old vigor!
In no time flat, he is addicted, impoverished, and all but raving.
Slow beginning, and actor Tully Marshall is too old for the women who are attracted to him.
Norma Talmadge fine as model.  In fact, I usually see her as stuffy or starchy and she is warm and funny.
Imaginative scene (above) of buzzed artist staring into fireolace, seeing pixies.

The Mystery Of The Leaping Fish -- 1916 - 7/10

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One of the funniest drug movies.
Douglas Fairbanks stars as detective Coke Ennyday consumes enough controlled substances to put him in company with Keith Richards and Mötley Crüe.
The leaping fish are inflatable fish, enjoyed by beach-goers riding the waves.
Police and Coke investigate dope smuggling, as well, although Mr Ennyday probably won’t turn any confiscated powder over to the evidence room.
Pace is frantic, with a stream of jokes and visual gags.  Story by Tod Browning.  
I still find it amazing this survives, let alone was made in the first place.
 

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The Vvitch

This was something else all together, not sure what rating to give, but it was fantastic and very very well made, predictable but not predictable at the same time, bat shit weird, open to interpretation, hell of a bad ass final scene just before the credits, holy shit.
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ETA: forgot to mention the music, loved it, like something from a Kubrick horror flick.
 

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Agatha Raisin: S01 - 2016 - 6/10

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Cross between Murder She Wrote and Midsomer Murders.
Blonde bobbed Agatha moves from London to the quiet Cotswolds.
Turns out her hamlet is killing capital of Britain.
While the DCI can break a mean “Word Up,” the police are generally a step behind.
Fortunately for villagers, Ms Raisin is shrewd and obstinate.
Pleasing locations, nice ensemble of repeating support characters.
Predictable, but then again, many crime shows are.
 

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Timi Nornarinnar - 2011 - 7/10
AKA - Season Of The Witch

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Troublemaker journalist is exiled from Reykjavík to Akureyri, northern Iceland.
He covers a missing dog, gets “man in the street” opinions.
Then starts to investigate the ugly murder of an actor wearing a witch’s robe with runes..
Later, he is asked to dig into an accidental drowning of an ailing woman.
Serbian gangs, an abandoned parrot, Iceland myths and gods, swirl in ever present snow.
Decent four-part mystery told from the newspaperman’s very droll point of view.
Bonus is plenty of rugged outdoor scenery, as well as historical tidbits.
 

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Barbed Wire Dolls - 1976 - 4/10

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Women in prison film.  Sleaze overload by Jess Franco.
Ladies are incarcerated in Castillo, in Mediterranean or Caribbean.
The warden wears short shorts and a monocle, and is also a lesbian (surprise!).
Plot is a carousel of sexual violations, torture, prisoners lolling about in undress in their cells.
Repeat - repeat - repeat.
Clearly Franco (who appears as the deranged daddy in slow-motion flashback) had no script, no ideas.
Cobbled together from motifs from better, well more original, women in prison films, this lazy filmmaking grows downright boring after awhile.
Franco completists?  Watch it, chalk it up, move to a hopefully better piece of crap.
 

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That Darn Cat - 1965 - 5/10

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Perpetually hungry Siamese cat gets involved with ruthless bank robbers.
Family friendly Disney fare was old-fashioned when it first came out.
Now, perhaps harder to tell.
After robbing the bank, and kidnapping a teller, two criminals (nicely cast with Neville Brand and Frank Gorshin) hide in plain sight - in the middle of town.
When DC (Darn Cat) strolls in, seeking a handout, the teller puts her wristwatch on his neck.
Will owners figure out this clue?  Will authorities rescue the hostage?
The “young people” were dated back when, today they appear old.
Gags are more hit than miss, plot is silly, cat acts like a cat.
I wanted to enjoy this, because I think I did at one time.
 
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