Recommend a movie

1,178 posts in this topic

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My Name Ain’t Suzie - 1985 - 6/10

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Purported rebuttal to 1960‘s The World Of Suzie Wong is too little, too late.
Barely adolescent, village girls follow free-spending madam back to the Hong Kong brothel.
There, they are educated in the ways of male satisfaction, and emptying males of their folding money.
Colorful Shaw Brothers production is PG, with no nudity, let alone suggestive moaning.
Just giggling, happy hookers servicing the US Navy from the Korean conflict to Vietnam era, after which traffic ebbs.
Expect the ubiquitous bar fight.  Triad involvement hinted at, drugs and pregnancies skirt by.
Most surprising (to me) was seeing the abandoned boy the madam had raised as her own, and was turning into her private boy toy, a young Anthony Wong in his first role.

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Posted

ZerØ' Days - 2016 - 7/10

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Excellent documentary of the Stuxnet computer worm, discovered by Kaspersky iin 2010.
Without spoiling too much, evidence is fairly clear this was a government operation.
This was an early salvo in cyber warfare.  Target, nuclear centrifuges.
Aftermath - the global proliferation of national cyber divisions.
Dozens of security folk interviewed, security firms and spymasters.
Do not hope for confession or clarity.
Coding jargon is basic 101, not overly technical (though I paused twice to answer questions).
For those who shrug, “This does not affect me,”  au contraire.  Targets include electrical grids, nuclear plants, dams, banking systems, hospitals, damn near anything with power and a micro processor.

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Posted

Burroughs (Arena) - 1983 - 7/10

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Penetrating, if difficult biography of William Burroughs.
Childhood, the Burroughs name, the William Tell incident, drug use, travels, sex, all check listed.
Being 1983, many interviewees were still alive (including Burroughs’ son) and they were blunt.
One memorable scene has him showing his defensive weapons in his bunker.  Knives, blackjacks, and of course, guns.
College readings * were problematic for me, as listening to his prose seemed harder to decipher compared with reading.
Burroughs' growling snarl might be an acquired taste.  Nonetheless, this is an excellent overview of the man a good decade before he died.

*  Seeing some of the readings, I began wondering who current students listen to.
Not the corporate shills, media celebrities, or pop culture scribes.  The poets, the literary masters, the underground.
Do junior and senior year intelligentsia value any literary elders enough to listen to?
Salman Rushdie?  Joan Didion?  Thomas Ligotti?

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Julieta - 2016 - 7/10

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Stellar return to form from Pedro Almodóvar.
Older woman, on the verge of leaving Madrid for Portugal, suddenly decides to remain.
She returns to a previous residence then sets about writing a journal - memoir about her relationships with her mother, husband, daughter.  All lost.
Writing is part therapy, part confession, meant for the daughter whom she has not seen in over a decade.
The narrative time slips, settings shift, and two different actors portray Julieta.
Much of the tone, indeed the music score, is reminiscent of a Douglas Sirk thriller.
There are no throwaway scenes in this, either, and several are outright magical.
The story pulls the viewer irresistibly into a past often shrouded with guilt and self deception.
For me, the best Almodóvar since Talk To Her (2002).

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Posted

13 Minutes - 2015 - 7/10
AKA - Elser

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Dramatization of a World War II footnote.
The 1939 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler that missed by 13 minutes.
Musician, factory worker, seducer, Georg Elser, decides Adolf is putting fellow Germans on a path to ruination.
He devises a powerful bomb with clockwork timer and places it inside the Munich Bürgerbräukeller.
Single-handedly.
The Gestapo disbelieve and intensify interrogations.
Well acted, and cannily arranged chronology maintain interest throughout.
Nagging questions notwithstanding, a strong drama with passing relevance to current events.

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Howl - 2015 - 6/10

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Midnight train to Eastborough slams to a stop in the Thornton forest.
Bickering, querulous passengers soon realize they are stranded and become prey.
Predictable (I guessed early meals, and called the survivor).  Limitations disguised with rain, fog and low light.
Unlike Dog Soldiers, no humor, and characters are weak, annoying or simply undeveloped.
Much as I hoped, Allen Ginsberg never appears.
Wolf pack, queue up.

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Cult Of The Cobra - 1955 - 5/10

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Guilty, childhood pleasure here.
Six postwar GI’s do the turista thing in Asia (India) before shipping home.
They hear of the secretive Cult Of The Cobra, lamias who can transform from human to snake.
For $100.00, the men can view the forbidden ceremony.  But - - - NO PHOTOS !!
Their guide repeats several times.  No photos!  No photos!
Guess what happens?   Ha ha ha.
Afterward, the now-Stateside ex-GI’s worry about toxic snake bites.
B-film has acceptable curse premise, snooze inducing love angle (sorry, Marshall Thompson is no romantic hunk), yet boasts a slew of future television “faces.”
Within ten years, their shows included “The F.B.I.,”  “The Big Valley,” “Daktari,” “Maverick,” “The Fugitive.”

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Dark Waters - 1993 - 6/10
AKA - Temnye Vody

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After father dies, girl journeys to remote convent island, during a violent, midnight storm.
Dad had been funding the sisterhood for years and she wants to know why.
Also, she was originally born on the island, and she wonders why she was warned never to return.
A slow film, though dense with imagery and set design.
The island is riddled with caves,catacombs, candles and streams of trickling waters.
Lovecraft readers will find much to appreciate in this, as will Italian horror aficionados.
Dialogue is minimal.  Show, don’t say, definitely applies, though that rule is overruled near the end and the film suffers, I think.

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Chupacabra Zombies Vs Wicked Nuns Vs Cthulhu - 2047 - 7/10

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Following rampant global warming, the chupacabra population explodes!
Worse, when killed, they revive, hungrier than ever.
Livestock is annihilated, pets disappear, small humans become unhappy meals.
A desperate group of moles evacadores (wall tunnelers) seek refuge in a sinister, fortified nunnery north of Ensenada.
Las Hermanas de Palo Mayombe.
As the gruesome siege whittles their numbers, the sisterhood misconstrue a Santerian chant and accidently invoke the dread Lord of R’yleh.
Awesome Cthulhu (who hates the over-used “awesome” word, by the way).
Harlequin Film’s first foray into Horror boasts jaw-dropping special effects.
Cthulhu, churning from the Pacific Ocean, capsizing cruise liners, unforgettable!
Cthulhu’s hundreds of tentacles squeezing pudgy, pleading passengers until their heads pop off, nightmare!
On the other hand, the de rigueur romance storyline is preposterous!
Horny young nun (who wears a habit but no bra) and the way-too-cute pizza delivery guy?  Really?
How does the Pepperoni Kid peddle his bicycle through ravenous chupacabras?  With a stack of pizzas?
Producers must assume if viewers buy that, they will buy anything.

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Cure For Wellness - 6/10 - 2017

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Tempted to score this higher for escalating preposterous nonsense of this folly.
Corporate masterminds send dodgy underling to exclusive Swiss spa to fetch missing CEO.
Within two ticks, anyone who has ever screened a movie or read a book would go, “Hey, this fenced up, nestled in oblivion castle is strange.”  Or - “Are all these white clad patients drugged?”
Anyway, the young man stays longer than planned and keeps drinking the mineral water.
Meanwhile, he wanders all over the place, deep into underground chambers, locked rooms, laboratories.
How come the staff simply does not drug his curious ass?
Beautiful photography!  But - it serves to mask the lack of cohesive plot.
I thought the story ended five times.  Nope.  Director thought of something else cool looking to add.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this.
Afterward, however, we were all going,  “What happened with -- Why did they -- How come --”

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Délice Paloma - 2007 - 6/10
AKA - Paloma Delight

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Algerian film of low level con-artists, grifters, scammers.
Ostensibly a counseling service, the ladies arrange divorces, damage store rivals, peddle flesh.
Film opens as the boss of the clique, Aldjeria, is released from three years in the prison.
Two of her previous cohorts, disguised in nun habits, greet her under the bridge.
From there, flashbacks unfold the final big deal, before it went wrong.
Interesting look inside Algeria.

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The Iron Crown - 1972 - 6/10
AKA - Kanawa // 鉄の王冠

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Offbeat mix of traditional Noh drama with modern retelling.
Unfaithful husband abandons wife for young tramp.  Wife refuses divorce, but decides to deliver hell.
The Noh is slower and more stylized, yet has more powerful images.
Highlight being the wife pounding nails into the groin area of straw fetishes.
Nudity and comingling throughout, tasteful compositions, spare music.
At the far end of arthouse, and definitely an acquired taste.

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My Hot Property - 2016 - 5/10

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Sleek, sexy corporate spy quafffs drugs by the crate and plays squitzy with fried brain boyfriend.
Then she falls behind in the rent in uber pricey London and buyers circle.
Movie follows her combative campaigns to hold onto her accommodations.
Meant to be a comedy, perhaps an edgy satire, this is low on laughs, high on stupid.
Asinine situations, moronic characters, as enticing as soggy pizza with mushy noodles.

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The Beauty’s Evil Roses - 1992 - 5/10
AKA - Se Jiang II Zhi Xie Mei Gui // 色降II之血玫瑰

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Wildly insane Hong Kong Cat III film of kidnapped girls, magic spells, lesbian action, penis snakes, machine guns, motorcycle gangs, kung fu, nudity, spawning, handcuff lovin’, sleazy music ...
Girls are indoctrinated into an evil queen’s entourage.
Disobedience or failure is punished by whippings, spanking and spell magic.
Hard to tell what the motivations are of anyone, aside from police and a brother searching for his sister.
The editing is jarring and haphazard.  Music is not even faded between scenes. Chop chop chop.
Conflicts (gunfire - incantations - slappings) are intercut with long stretches of nudity and mattress action.
Legendary film that I somehow never saw in the 90s when I was so obsessive over HK films.
I think was expecting more, or at least better cutting.

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The Art Of Negative Thinking - 2006 - 6/10
AKA - Kunsten åtenke Negativt

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Weekly, monthly meeting of paraplegic support group arrives at home of newest member.
Much to his resentment, resistance, and dismissive scorn.
They are, indeed, a bubbly mix with their optimistic credos and motorized wheelchairs.
Viewers might be forgiven for hating them almost as quickly as the infuriated homeowner does.
They roll in anyway, and he immediately begins to shred the smiling facades.
Black comedy holds back way too much.
Feels like a play, stagebound and talky.  (Note: on the boards in 2010)
Yeah, what was I expecting?  Dancing?  Synchronized swimming?
From Norway.

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Love Is All You Need - 2012 - 6/10
AKA - Den Skaldede Frisør

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Young couple (English - Danish) opt to marry at his family villa in Italy.
Girl’s mother, recovering from cancer therapy, discovers husband shtupping flexible replacement.
Boy’s father still has not gotten over his wife’s death.
Surely they will be too preoccupied to take note of each other.
Elements for soapy romance align.
Add coastal scenery, breezy directorial style, light comic touches.
OK date night flick in Danish and Italian, though Mr Brosnan speaks English throughout.

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Russia 1917: Countdown To Revolution - 2017 - 7/10

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Compressed telling of events leading up to the Bolshevik revolution.
Narrative begins 239 days out, until time collapses to "Zero Hour."
An all but unlikely takeover of power, a nation, and history.
Talking heads propel the facts, but they frequently disagree.
Modern reenactments are used sparingly for Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and Kerensky.
Remainder of the footage are period newsreels and Silent era footage.
Those Silent films were especially useful, as they were accepted as history.
Many of the declarations by participants were taken as factual and believed.
Worthwhile viewing, though lacking depth and not without flaws.
For example, one of the speakers opines that this is where "fake news" begins.
Sorry, as long as humans have breathed, they have deceived.

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A Dangerous Fortune - 2016 - 5/10
AKA - Die Pfeiler der Macht

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German adaptation of Ken Follett's Victorian / Edwardian twaddle.
Young boy is taken in by relatives after his father commits suicide rather than face financial ruin.
In due time, he is a rising star at the family business, the bank.
Revolutionaries, gambling, drinking, murder, fraud and bodice ripping spice the first half.
Second half is dreary love triangle and general whining.  Soap opera.
German take on gaslit England is interesting, but often seems too modern in many regards.

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