Recommend a movie

1,376 posts in this topic

Posted

Varastettu Kuolema - 1938 - 7/10
AKA - Stolen Death

Finland, circa 1904, tries to break free of Czarist rule.
Revolutionaries, printing subversive flyers and broadsheets, progress to seeking weapons.
The secret police hunt them, an arms dealer blackmails them, and traps lay everywhere.

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One of the last Expressionist films, the narrative moves too quickly for its own good.
Indeed, twenty minute in, I paused this, quite confused, to research.
After the initial release, 15 minutes were cut (though preserved), reason for the narrative jumps.
Film scholars theorize the girl is actually a prostitute, sleeping with Russian soldier for guns.
The arms dealer / blackmailer is her pimp.
And he doesn't count on her falling in love with one of the revolutionaries.

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Camera work is memorable throughout, though the print is battered.
Finland actually has the complete cut, so a restored version is possible.
The director only made five films, before dying in World War II, age 29.

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Posted

Ed And Pauline - 2014 - 7/10

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Theater owner Ed Landberg and film critic Pauline Kael form an unlikely team in 1950's San Francisco.
The Cinema-Guild and later Studio brought in foreign films, indies, and old movies people had heard about, yet have never viewed.  Things like Citizen Kane, or Casablanca, or Brief Encounter, or The Bicycle Thief.  Kael wrote reviews and columns in the program guide, before relocating to New York.
At less than 20", this short effectively captures what it was like in the pre-VHS rental days.
There was either late-night television reruns of old movies, or a revival house.
The latter was almost exclusive to the largest cities.

By the 70s, repertory cinema houses dotted the Los Angeles landscape.
They always showed a double-feature.  The hippy chick and I attended two or three times a week.
After we moved away, we discovered what a hinterland the rest of the country was.
Almost.
Aside from museums, there were film societies.
One subscribed, and a $35.00 yearly ticket got you one movie a month.
French, German, Cassavetes, etc ... Pure arthouse fare.
At the end of the season, members were given a list of 50-60 prospective titles and we voted on what we wanted to see next season.  The Top 12 were ordered.

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Posted

Taxi - 2015 - 7/10
AKA - Taxi Tehran /  تاکسی

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Director Jafar Panahi, still officially banned by Iranian censors, wheels the taxicab.
He also installs several cameras which catch was passengers have to say.
One hears confessions, odd beliefs in death, concerns about retribution.
Then there are those who recognize the director and ask for film recommendations.
When niece Hana shows, it's like a whirlwind.
Proceedings are eye opening, often laugh out loud funny.
Difficult to tell what is impromptu, and what might be staged.  He is on probation remember.
Films cannot depict "sordid realism."
Wonderful guerilla cinema!

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Posted

Game Night - 2018 - 7/10

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C'mon, do people still play charades at home?  Pictionary?
So if you say, "Well, maybe.  I dunno." you could buy into this.
Friends gather monthly to play said games, eat snacks, shun creepy neighbor.
Until one of the role playing dramas takes and unexpected dark turn.
And it becomes a high octane race to solve.
Once this thriller builds up momentum, it is like an express.
Better, this is packed with jokes.  Situations, one-liners, characters.
Believe most of the ratings and avoid reading spoilers, this is a fun film!

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Posted

Lady MacBeth - 2017 - 7/10

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I thought this would be an inversion of Shakespeare, and there are elements of the play, especially guilt.
This is based on a short story by Nikolai Leskov, however, adapted into rural England.
Family sire buys a small parcel of land.  With it, a 17 year old wife for his 30ish son.
Like the land, she is "property" and is repeatedly reminded of that.
Chattel, like horses, are best dealt with harshly until their spirit is broken.
Only ****herine does not break easily;  in fact, there is a furnace inside her, waiting to be stoked.
Slow burn costume drama that manages to be repulsive, sexy, violent, exquisite.
Austere manners and photography barely mask primal undercurrents.

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Posted

Upgrade - 2018 - 6/10

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Auto accident leaves man injured.  Sadistic vulture types leave him paralyzed.
Set in the near future, robots and machines care for him and abort suicide attempts.
A life of misery stretches ahead - until - a reclusive computer genius offers to test his implant in the man.
"... Better than he was before. Better... stronger... faster ..."
Readers old enough to recognize the quote will know the premise, which is coupled with a quest for truth plot.
In his journey, our protagonist forms a relationship with his implant, a cross between HAL and KITT.
Most of the fights resemble bouts from the Mortal Kombat arcade game.
Story may not feel like leftovers to under 40 viewers.
The ending made it for me, though others may be unsettled by the reveal.

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Posted

Der Hexer - 1964 - 5/10
AKA - The Ringer // The Magician

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Attractive office secretary is strangled then ferried into the Thames in a mini-sub!
Too late, the four perpetrators realize she had been the sister of a shadowy crime lord.
A criminal mastermind with a specialty in assassination.
Meanwhile, Scotland Yard hustles to identify the killers, and apprehend the crime boss!
There is a sideplot of white slavery, suspicious reporters, valets, tantalizing women, an underground labyrinth, and don't forget about that mini-sub!  
Fast paced, if confusing Krimi based on Edgar Wallace, percolates enough to sustain interest.
Inspector Higgins (Joachim Fuchsberger) is less effective in this compared with his other films.
Film rather good at keeping viewers guessing about who the hexer is.

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Posted

Une Nouvelle Amie - 2014 - 5/10
AKA - The New Girlfriend

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I will generally watch any film by François Ozon;  I consider him a wayward nephew of Douglas Sirk.
This one covers unrequited love, identity, and deception.
The blurb in IMDB is uselessly vague -
"... young woman makes surprising discovery about husband of her late best friend."
The source material is Ruth Rendell, so I expected a dark psychological mystery / thriller.
Mmm ... no.
The plot, steeped in individual fashion choice, despite being straight-faced throughout, is already dated.
I cannot see most viewers even caring, unless they keep a cross-dressing film checklist.

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Posted

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library - 2017 - 6/10

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Lengthy documentary on the central location and the branches.
Free form structure.  Five minutes of an author interview, five minutes in the childrens section, five minutes with the board, five minutes with a poet, or a rapper.  Book club.  Senior time!  More board meetings.  E-books.  Funding.
Repeat - repeat.
The homeless problem barely touched upon.  (My bride toils in the stacks, and believe me, street types, especially those with mental issues, affect patron numbers.)
Time runs three and a half hours.  I broke this up into two nights.
The first half seemed mind numbingly slow.  Every vignette went on three beats too long.
The second half was edited quicker and had a better flow.

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Posted

Medusa -  1973 - 3/10
AKA - To Kynigi Tis Medousas /

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My fault for not even glancing at the synopsis.
Dilettante playboy works cheap hustles and capers with strong arm casino owner.
Meanwhile, the playboy's sister tries to score Greek tycoon for husband.
Police sniff around, but seem more inclined to watch giggling arguments.
This film really blows.  The first ten minutes is taken up with dancing!
English spoken in most scenes, Greek in the others.  Not subtitled.
The plot feels improvised.  George Hamilton admitted he did this for a free vacation with his new wife, Alana.
I only loaded Medusa because it was in my box of 50 Crappy Horror flicks.
This ain't horror.  Only horror is brain cells being destroyed.  Rubbish from beginning to end.

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Posted

My Cousin Rachel - 2017 - 6/10

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Somber adaptation of Daphne du Maurier novel.
Young orphan is taken in by his older, single, male cousin.
After the youth comes of age, the cousin meets and marries an exotic English / Italian hybrid.
Just before he mysteriously dies.
Opinions and judgments of the widow, as seen through key characters, surge, ebb, and shift.
Despite several dramatic outbursts, film is coldly reserved.
Watchable, especially for costume drama buffs, but not particularly engaging.

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Posted

La Femme de l'Aviateur - 1980 - 6/10
The Aviator's Wife

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François, a young postal employee catches an old flame departing his girlfriend's apartment.
The girlfriend denies everything.  Actually, she believes François is a creep.
Her opinion is confirmed when her swain he begins to stalk the other man.
During the course of an afternoon, he shares time with a high school student and they converse about women, choice, relationships, trust.
You know, the usual.   At least of you are a character in a French drama.
François is five years older than the young student, five years younger than his girlfriend.
With that in mind, one sees youthful optimism, growing awareness, cynicism.
No one is downright unpleasant, though tics, obsessions and overall flightiness could drain your patience.

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Posted

Adrift - 2018 - 7/10

Redford covered similar ground in 2014 with All Is Lost, but this has different perspectives.
Couple taking schooner across the Pacific to the States enter hurricane Raymond.

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Once the masts go, the ship is adrift.
As with similar films, the boat is far removed from shipping lanes.  They are on their own.
The story enters survival territory, and is filled with flashbacks of how they met, how they connected.
Photography is impressive throughout, the plot logical, and one is immersed.
I have viewed a few films by director Baltasar Kormákur, his location shooting is tremendous.

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Posted

Verbotene Filme - 2014 - 7/10
AKA - Forbidden Films

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Over 1000 films were made under the Nazis.  Historicals, musicals, thrillers, and propaganda.
After World War II, 300 were officially banned.  Today that number is around 40.
This documentary shows where they are stored, and how they are screened.
Viewing within Germany is still tightly controlled, although the resourceful can find ways.
A sampling are screened to audiences in France, Germany, Israel, and neo-Nazis.
(The latter discuss how banned films are still useful for indoctrinating the young.)
Propaganda ranges from anti-Communist, anti-British, antisemitic, rallying the troops.
The prints that the Murnau Foundation has are sharper than other Reichsfilme I have seen.
Apparently with subtitles, too.  Half of those I have watched have none.
Is this worth watching?  Yes.
The Santayana quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” strikes me as only half true.
History does repeat - again and again.
Those who grasp the cycle, however, can better prepare for the inevitable.

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Posted

The Kiss Of Her Flesh - 1968 - 4/10

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Grindhouse crap of serial killer who targets voluptuous females to get even with his faithless, if dead, wife.
The opening sequence tracks a woman wandering around a snowy lake.
She fails to see the guy wearing a ski mask, waving a tire iron, as he approaches.
Next thing, she's naked while he tortures her with a lobster claw.
Safe sex sequences (everyone wears panties or briefs) break up unbelievably bad kills.
Audio is totally looped, no sync with mouths whatsoever.  The editing is choppier than an infant in the bathtub.
The intrusive score is a mix of lounge, bongos, and classical.
Compensations - topless womenfolk abound.  Those who prefer full figured lovelies will feel they have entered Double D heaven.
Best-worst aspect about this garbage is that this is part of a trilogy!
I will probably watch the other two because the loser gene runs strong in me.

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Posted

Hotel des Ameriques - 1981 - 6/10
AKA - Hotel America

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Middling drama of grieving woman and man who perpetually spins his wheels.
They meet after she speeds though narrow town lanes and damn near runs him down.
There is mutual interest - attraction even - but not mutually reciprocated.
One of those horrible relationships of the mismatched wavelength.
When he's passionate, she's cold.  When she trusts, he's jealous.  They seem never together.
All of us have been locked in this trap where you tear each other apart.
Here, they are insecure, and reside in a small beachfront, casino town where everyone knows everyone.
Nice one for Deneuve fans.

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