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A few reviews

Gaith

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Churchill's First World War (2013, available on US Netflix)

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I love historical dramatizations, and don't mind a good talking-head historical documentary. When actors are put into the latter format, however, I get antsy - but then, I hadn't actually watched one of those hybrids until now. In this case, I didn't mind it, as the actors recite a few historical lines in various snippets, but don't have any dialogue scenes, so it's really not much different than visual voiceovers.

Anyhow, a strong, informative, and engaging doc. I wasn't at all familiar with this period of Churchill's life apart from his role in the dramatic miniseries 37 Days, to which this serves as a sequel of sorts. The material summarized here could doubtless be expanded to a great dramatic miniseries itself.

B+
 

Vultural

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Una - 2016 - 7/10

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If you missed “Blackbird” on Broadway or the West End, here’s a fine alternative.
28 year old female tracks down the man with whom she once had an affair.
Fifteen years earlier.  At the time, he was her neighbor, her father’s best friend, and 35 years old.
Uncomfortable material, in-your-face delivery, filled with accusations and excuses.
To say she was permanently damaged by the encounter would be an understatement.
Throughout, both characters shift from sympathetic to repugnant.
Viewers who stick with this unsavory story will be kept on their toes the whole time.
 

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^ Sir! If the great Ben Mendelsohn is one of a movie's stars, it is your duty to point that out! ;)

Vultural said:
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.

I wanted to love this one, but only liked it. The central romance was undercooked, with an unnecessary love triangle to boot, and the peripheral characters didn't get enough to do. Maybe a miniseries would have been a better fit, allowing the filmmaking and other plotlines more room to breathe. Definitely worth a watch, and Arterton is great, but a classic it ain't.

B
 

bionicbob

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KING ARTHUR:  LEGEND OF THE SWORD
http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX9y5JPuRHY[/video]

I love Arthurian Lore!  I love/hate Guy Ritchie!  What happens when these worlds collide?

A potential filled but ultimately underwhelming summer dud.

What I liked:  
--Jude Law!  He gives a great, layered performance as the evil King.  Complete scene stealer.
--I enjoyed the fantastical elements, particularly in regards to the sword Excalibur.  It is the first time I can recollect where the sword is more than a symbol, it is actually magical and grants it's user super-powers!   There is also an amazing sequence involving Eric Bana and the sword, showing how it became embedded in the stone that I loved.  There is also some very amazing imagery moments, such as the Lady in the Lake.
--the making of Arthur a street gangster and his crew future knights of the Round Table was an interesting new spin....

...but that also leads me into what I did not like....

--Charlie Hunnam, as smartass, badass and kickass hood he is good, but his range of other emotions seemed very limited in this performance.  Thus in many key scenes where he needed to create an emotional connection with the audience he fails.  I could not help but compare him to Eric Bana, who is onscreen maybe 10 minutes in this movie, but like Jude Law, his presence jumps off the screen and you completely understand and buy his character.
--same problem with Arthur's crew.... all lack any real screen charisma and are forgettable.
--typical Guy Ritchie quick banter and quick cut editing.... some sequences it was energizing, but there were times it felt very wrong for this genre, as though Ritchie was uncertain what type of movie he was making... it was off putting at times.  For a movie with a runtime of 2hrs6mins, it felt much,much longer, with me often looking at my watch in disbelief. 
--and then this movie makes the same mistake most superhero blockbusters have made in the past decade, by having our hero fight a CGI villain in the climax.... in this instance, not only is it emotionally boring but it also looked very video gamey bad.

In the end, there are lots of cool concepts and some fun moments, but the movie lacks any real weight.   Compared to previous King Arthur outings, it is not as deliciously bombastic as Excalibur, or earnestly epic as Clive Owen's King Arthur or even as b-movie fun as Colin Firth's The Last Legion.   It is a movie trying to be a bit of everything without fully succeeding at anything.
6.5 out of 10.
 

Vultural

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The Spiral Staircase - 1946 - 6/10

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Gothic thriller from RKO, if a bit stodgy at times.
Robert Siodmak, who helmed a clutch of excellent Noirs, gives this turn of the century gem a nicely creepy feel.
A mysterious, serial killer targets handicapped females.
Next on his list, apparently, is the mute servant girl working in the mansion on the town outskirts.
A thunderstorm howls outside, the family within are not what they seem.
In short, any of them could be the murderer.
Superb lighting, evocative score, a pervasive sense of doom, satisfying for traditionalists.
 

Vultural

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L’Argent - 1988 - 6/10
AKA - Money

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Sorry, I ain’t buying this.
Ostensibly, we follow counterfeit money as it passes various hands.
From the gullible to the devious to the sly to the trusting.
Moralizing film studying human reactions.
For skeptical souls, behaviour is predictable, especially if your opinions of humanity are low.
Narrative settles on one character and his path, which sinks preposterous.
 

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The Body Collector - 2016 - 6/10
AKA - De Zaak Menten

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Based on true story of ex-Nazi collaborator living in privilege.
By chance, a Netherlands journalist follows the whisper and begins exploring the past.
Bloodsoaked theft of art, primarily paintings.
Confronting the rich with powerful connections and ample funds, however, there’s the rub.
Absorbing throughout, and the film does not flinch from SS activities in the Jewish village in Poland.
Strives for an emotional impact, but an air of detachment undercuts this.
 

Vultural

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Fair Isle: Living On The Edge - 2016 - 6/10

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Breeders needed!  Tiny island in northern Britain is looking for newcomers.
Current population is 57, not counting the sheep.
Power goes off at nights.  Owing to storms, sometimes the island is cut off for weeks.
Just to keep the island going, inhabitants must do 3 - 4 - 5 jobs.
Isolation?  Plenty.  Awe inspiring nature?  This is the place.
Mind you, during summer scenes many still wore jackets.  Winter?  Lordy.
Two part series of inhabitants fighting valiantly to maintain their community.
 

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Ghost in the Shell Arise: Border 4 - Ghost Stands Alone - 5/10 - 2014

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Stumbling, repetitive conclusion to groundbreaking franchise.
Finale prequel to the original finds the unit mostly assembled.
Kusanagi, Batou, et al, just before joining Section 9.
Usual themes of identity, cyber consciousness, terrorism, intelligence hacking.
Some visuals quite beautiful, other scenes are static.  Characters sitting in a bare room, talking.
Action is minimal, the plot is borrowed bits and pieces from earlier shows.
Not essential, even for GITS fans.
 

Vultural

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The Beatles, Hippies And Hells Angels - 2017 - 7/10

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Scoring this a 7 for Beatles fans.  Casual onlookers, give a 6.
Labour of love overview of Apple Corps.  Wide eyed, trusting souls, launch a “new business model.”
Behind the scenes histories as told by the office girls, a few hangers on, and the accountant.
Especially, the accountant.  The Beatles, at the height of their success had tax liabilities to choke royalty.
“Set up your own company."   They did, and this doc shows where a flood of the money went.
Packed with photos, many I had never seen before, as well as fresh voices.
Funny, engaging, bittersweet.  From gear to groovy to bummer.  Must for moptop fans.
 

Vultural

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The Limehouse Golem - 2017 - 6/10

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1880 London.  A serial killer is loose and authorities at a loss.
Historical note:  Jack the Ripper was 1888.
A marginalized detective is given the case, purpose  being if he fails, he will be the scapegoat.
The inspector’s attention turns to an unrelated domestic murder, instead.
Suspects include Dan Leno, George Gissing, Karl Marx.
Methodical pace allows various imagined scenarios to unroll in gaslit Victoria England.
Aside from the illuminated British Library, this is set in dirty alleys and the hazy confines of the music hall.
Soiled look will appeal to fans of Ripper Street, Mr Holmes, Sergeant Cribb ...
Bill Nighy fine in role originally meant for Alan Rickman.
Steer clear of spoiler reviews.  Devilish corkscrew ending.
 

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Maya - 1949 - 6/10

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After the ship docks, crewmen hurry into the red light district in search of company.
The most acclaimed prostitute goes by many names, but most call her Maya.
Ennui fills her.  Whereas the other girls force bright smiles and laughs, she is resigned.
One seaman falls for her, and falls hard.  He starts imagining an “us,” though she dissuades him.
The lighting and set design are remarkable, an offshoot of Expressionism.
Narrative itself is drama, replete with meaning-heavy dialogue.
Could’ve and might’ve been a play.  Felt stagey despite attempts to open it up.
 

bionicbob

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THE MUMMY 2017
http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T55Ir1I7GX4[/video]

I knew the reviews were poor going into this movie, but nothing... NOTHING... could prepare me for how horribly and embarrassingly TERRIBLE this movie is!!!!

Tom Cruise who has built an amazing career being charming and charismatic, displays none of those abilities here.  His comedic talents appear to be non-existent.  He seems to have no idea how to set up, deliver or react to a funny line, scene or situation.  

And yes, this is a COMEDY.  It is the EXACT SAME  tone as the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies -- light comedy adventure.  Except, unlike those well made, well cast, well performed and entertaining original movies, this movie in NOT FUNNY.  Not even remotely funny.  Every joke is predictable, poorly executed and falls completely flat.  Cruise is essentially playing the exact same character that Fraser originated  (!?!!) with just a different name.   Except he lacks Fraser's superior acting chops when is comes to balancing comedy and drama.   Honestly, this is easily Cruise's worst performance I have ever watched.

On top of that, Cruise and leading lady Annabelle Wallis have zip, zero, zilch onscreen chemistry.  Their romcom banter fails on every imaginable level.  You never buy their relationship or see anything that suggests Wallis is Cruise's true love.  Thus, you never believe Cruise's character sacrifice in the third act.  

Then there is Jake Johnson's side kick character.... uhg!  This is the most annoying, useless and shockingly UNFUNNY character I have had to endure in a long time.  Brutal to watch.

How much of this disaster is Cruise's fault or writer/director Alex Kutzman's, I dunno, but somebody, somewhere in the studio should have had the good sense to look at the dailies and say "STOP!!!!!!!!". 

As the launching tent pole for a new franchise entitled Dark Universe (horrible name Universal!!! sinkaroo!) there is surprisingly no horror or scares or gothic undertones or pathos that one might expect from a property spawned from the Universal Monsters line.  This is typical, safe, designed by committee, summer blockbuster action fare. Nothing in this movie is fresh or exciting, every set piece is ripped from some other movie, including other Tom Cruise movies and feels by the numbers.   In fact, the amount that is lifted from the original Fraser Mummy trilogy is staggering and makes me wonder why even do a remake?  They should have just made a fourth movie and gone with the same ending, as it would have worked better (especially if they could have gotten Weisz back) and played far more tragic in the classic Universal Monster style.

Is there anything good in this movie?  Lots of critics cited Russell Crowes' performance as Jekyll/Hyde but I dunno... he adds some gravitas but his scenes with Cruise are so bad (mostly because of Cruise's acting choices) that it quickly erodes away anything positive he may have brought to the table.

The soundtrack is functional.  The FX are good, what you would expect for this type of movie.  Sofia Boutella as the female Mummy was only interesting because it was different, but she brought nothing memorable to the role.  The general unifying concept for the Dark Universe has potential.  But they should have gone for a more serious, smaller midsize budget route with more emphasis on dark thriller than mindless, endless spectacle.   

If you have been on the fence about this and wondering if you should check it out, skip it.  Do yourself a favour,  and go rewatch Brendan Fraser's Mummy trilogy (yes, even Dragon Emperor--it is a million times better than this dreck).  Or better yet, go watch the original Universal Monsters movies and relive the glory of Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, the Wolfman and yes, the Mummy.

I will be generous, and give this latest Mummy incarnation 3 out of 10. 
Now excuse me, I need to shower and scrape this stink off of me.  :p
 

Vultural

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Subway - 1985 - 6/10

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Christopher Lambert goes blonde!  Isabelle Adjani longs for love!  Jean Reno hits the drums!
Petty thieves, musicians, police and bodybuilders slum and slam in the Paris subway.
Early Luc Besson film is flashy, empty headed, filled with attractive, soulless characters.
Henchmen chase an impulsive opportunist who hides himself in the underground of the underground.
Metro police are more concerned about a roller skating purse snatcher.
Love tries to flourish -- as does a pop concert!
Mindless fun, and a prevue of bigger things to come.
 

TM2YC

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bionicbob said:
I will be generous, and give this latest Mummy incarnation 3 out of 10. 
Now excuse me, I need to shower and scrape this stink off of me.  :p

Is it just me, or is the blindingly obvious setup for a "Universal Dark Universe" not Victorian-ish times? It's where those characters tend to have originated from and where they'd all naturally work tonally. A Victorian era super-team, a kind of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" if you will :D .
 

bionicbob

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TM2YC said:
bionicbob said:
I will be generous, and give this latest Mummy incarnation 3 out of 10. 
Now excuse me, I need to shower and scrape this stink off of me.  :p

Is it just me, or is the blindingly obvious setup for a "Universal Dark Universe" not Victorian-ish times? It's where those characters tend to have originated from and where they'd all naturally work tonally. A Victorian era super-team, a kind of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" if you will :D .

My dream would be a mid-budget continuation of the original Universal Monster movies, with the original monster designs and shot in black and white... I want my House of the Wolf Man!!! ...but that will never happen LOL.

However, I do like your idea, except instead of giving the Dark Universe a specific time period, set in a quasi-altnerate history similar to the old movies where you have castles, gypsies, cars and telephones.
 

Vultural

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Panique - 1947 - 6/10

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Some never catch a break.
Take Monsieur Hire.  He keeps to himself, pays bills promptly and in full, does not gossip, is nice to children.
And yet -- he is a bit of a social outcast, even though he has lived in the village three years.
When an elderly spinster is murdered in an empty lot, citizens start looking for the killer in their midst.
A mysterious woman arrives, and Monsieur Hire casts his lonely gaze her way.
This is a film of surface appearances, simmering with suspicion and mob fury.

I suspect Panique resonated strongly when released in post WWII France.
Occupation, collaboration and Vichy were clear memories to audiences.
 

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"Super duper alice cooper 2014" is the story of vince furnier aka alice cooper and shows you the highs and lows behind the makeup of the rock legend . Showing rare footage from his upbringing as a shy preachers son to the theatrics of his stage show
 

Vultural

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Sharknado 5 - 2017 - 4/10

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Latest installment of overcooked, feeble minded franchise.
Who watches this?  Guilty here, I live with two obsessed sharky finatics.
Story borrows from - plays homage to - steals from a plethora of action classics.
For the knowledgeable, there will be quotes, puns and groaners.
Cameos litter the cast.  From desperate has-beens to cosmetic surgery survivors who resemble lab experiments.
Story?  Oh, sorry.  Shark infested tornadoes down spout the globe.
Luckily for those nations there are Yanks who will save them.
One of them even says,  “We’re trying to make America great again ... make the world great again.”
Audiences across the planet howl in glee.
 

Vultural

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Born To Be Blue - 2015 - 6/10

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Iffy musing on Chet Baker’s “missing years.”
Between the glamorous, youthful heyday and the stubborn comeback.
The years when his teeth were knocked out and he had to rebuild his embouchure.
This is not a biopic proper.  The girlfriend is a composite of Halema, Diane and Ruth.
Bit careless on chronology, too.  And the ending -- no.
Credit to filmmakers for trying to show the unpleasant side of Baker to balance the talent.
They did not go far enough, though, and this is too feel goody for my understanding of Mr Baker.
 
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