Recommend a movie

1,494 posts in this topic

Posted

Hitler's Hollywood - 2017 - 8/10

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Continuation of 2014's From Caligari To Hitler, this is an exploration of the Reichsfilme.
Entertainment for the masses:  historicals, musicals, thrillers, action, romance, comedy.
All, overtly or subtly, propaganda, overseen by Joseph Goebbels.
This shows the absorption of Ufa, the compromises by actors and directors - or willingness.
Clips shown are in excellent condition, with very good subs.
Note:  finding these films is often challenging, and subtitles can be particularly difficult.
The English version of this is narrated by Udo Kier, who provides shade and nuance with his purring voice.
Outstanding documentary.

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Posted

Le Corbeau - 1943 - 7/10
AKA - The Raven

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Inhabitants of French village start receiving poison pen letters.
Stylized calligraphy signed by le Corbeau.
Malicious gossip, innuendo, facts mixed with falsehoods.
Some shrug it off, others laugh, some worry, most try to guess the culprit.
Venomous  movie is packed with jaded, angry, spiteful souls.
Excels at casting suspicion on almost everyone.
From the date, I imagine this was shot during the Occupation.  You wouldn't know, the standards are high.

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Posted

Overlord - 2018 - 6/10

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Three movies here.
The first, a World War II mission to knock out a radio tower prior to D-Day.
Second, within that tower the Germans are engaged in experimentation.  Such as?
Third, over the top fights n explosions by "super-heroes."
Solid production values, questionable casting (explained satisfactorily in the narrative), and good concepts.
Detour into Shock Waves territory needs a better backstory, better execution, and less predictability.
Starts well, ends up hackneyed.  Abrams continues his transition into Emmerich.

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Posted

The Favourite - 2018 - 6/10

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Glossy drama of the power behind the throne.
In this case, Lady Marlborough behind Queen Anne.
First half drips style.  Indeed, this may remind seasoned viewers of Orlando or Plunkett & Macleane.
Staccato paced, acid drenched dialogue, blast furnace humor, make this irresistible arthouse.    
Unfortunately, the second half is an utter reversal.
The narrative plods, colours are leached out, and proceedings are glum and serious.
Yes, the director is making a point - and following history - but the enjoyment swoons off the cliff.

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Posted

Studio 54 - 2018 - 7/10

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Surprisingly entertaining documentary of the influential, of polarizing, New York nightclub.
Story proceeds chronologically, with perhaps faithful recollections by survivors.
Best friends Rubell and Schrager acquire a discarded CBS studio, renovate, issue invites.
Within months, the club was a must, as rich, famous and celebrities alike partied inside to extravagant sets.

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Lined queued and admittance for the rabble incited a **** of dark passions.
The doc mentions this resentment and envy, as well as the anti Disco sentiment at the time.
Producers either underplay the hatred of the time (for disco, for gays, for blacks, for liberated females), or they flat out simply never comprehended expressions outside the Manhattan glitterati.    
No shirking from the downfall, however, and narrators seem honest - and likeable.
One aspect I truly appreciated was the unbreakable  bond between Rubell and Schrager.

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Looking For Eric - 2009 – 6/10

Postman Eric’s life is whirling, spinning out of his control – as if he ever possessed any control.
His daughter needs him to babysit her child while she attends college, and that means encountering his first wife, whom he abandoned years earlier.
Sons of wife number two (dead, missing, in prison) have gotten in over their heads with a crime boss.
No one can help Eric, until he channels his idol, Eric Cantona.

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The Man U legend offers advice, though typical of King Eric, it can be maddeningly enigmatic.
Ken Loach film mixes despair and optimism with football sequences.
During the latter, I received bonus commentary from my dainty bride, a long time Man U supporter.
This film would serve as an agreeable introduction into Loach’s oeuvre.

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Love Education - 2006 – 5/10
AKA – 禁室培慾之愛的俘虜

Swinging Hong Kong photographer is c****ip to the ladies.
“Take my picture, please!”  “Ooh, I love nudity, yes, please touch me!”
Then one evening, he spies a moody female, dark eyed Yumi, drinking in a smoky bar.
What’s the phrase?  One moment of passion, a lifetime of regret.

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Turns out she is possessive to the nth degree.  From blindfolds to handcuffs to steel manacles.
She encourages obedience.  Yumi’s helpers include fire rods, kitchen knives, garden tools.
“Those last pictures of me are no good.  Make me look beautiful, or else!”
Oh, yeah, she drains that wick of his daily – if you catch my drift.
Glossy, Cat 3 sopping with blood, flashing plenty of hot skin.

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Posted

Colette - 2018 – 6/10

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Keira Knightley in a costume drama.
Though unlikely to win awards or acclaim, Knightley plugs along and does not appear lost in a sea of finery.
Story follows Colette’s early years (long pigtale notwithstanding, there is no way the actor resembles a 14 year old).
Husband Willy enlists young bride into his writing stable.  Her creation, “Claudine” proves a runaway bestseller.
Willy takes credit, society suspects the truth, Colette finds solace in affairs.
I imagine outraged audiences decry such exploitation.  I wonder how they feel inside the museum, admiring large installations by the modern “artist” who maintain a crew – a factory – to do the actual creating.
Movie covers a lot of territory, has a glossy surface, and feels shallow.
Decent companion to 1972 French film, La Naissance du Jour, which shows the writer’s later years.

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Compartiment Tueurs - 1965 – 7/10
AKA – The Sleeping Car Murder

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Tight French thriller.  The locked room mystery, or here, murder in the train compartment.
Sleeper car.  Six berths, one mysterious death.  Strangulation.
The victim seems to have been innocent, and no one seems to have noticed.
Passengers scatter to their lives, police remain baffled.
Until those uninvolved passengers begin to meet the Reaper.
Film starts at a decent pace (ie; 1965), though momentum builds and by the finale is breakneck.
Script adroitly keeps viewers guessing throughout.

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Mausoleum - 1983 – 4/10

At the cemetery, ten year old Susan wails as mom is being planted.
She runs off, eventually makes her way to a fenced, locked crypt.
Only thing, it opens up for.  She enters, ignores a passel of rats, hears the voice.
Turns out, she is a descendant of the Nomed family.
Twenty years later, now married and fabulously rich, the family curse awakens.
See, Nomed, if spelled backwards becomes … oh no!

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Growed up Susan gets flirty and frisky with men, only to put the death spell on ’em.
A truly awful movie, I watched with keen interest throughout.
Clearly, producers were trying to emulate Italian horror (Argento, Bava, Fulci).
Tinted lenses, oddball characters, morphing monsters.
Casting a Playboy centerfold insured nudity and softcore rompings.
Miss September cannot act.  To compensate, producers hired players who imitated tree stumps.
But wait!  What if the story is great?
Sorry, this is a howler.  Watching, I wondered if there was even a script.
Many times, I gathered filmmakers were making it up as they went along.
“Oh, how about we do this?”  “Ooh, yes, so cool.”
Nope, stupefyingly terrible.  In other words, sheer delight.

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Posted

Tea With The Dames - 2018 – 6/10

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Entertaining, enjoyable eavesdrop on four grand dames of British theatre.
For West End goers, the comments are delicious and rare clips make this a must see.
This is feel-good material, however, meaning uncomfortable topics often result in silences.
Therein is the, not problem, but lack of substance with this documentary.
Despite the wine and laughter, one can sense their guardedness.
Also, I cannot help but wonder if questions were given ahead of time and spontaneous answers were prepared.
Don’t want to sound churlish, because this is gregarious history, and the sharp exchanges are frequently laugh out loud funny.

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The Seventh Victim - 1943 – 7/10

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When funding for her private school stops, young Mary embarks to Greenwich Village, searching for older sister Jacqueline.
There, however, shadows gather.
She discovers Jacqueline had sold her prospering business and vanished.
Marked as Horror, this is more Gothic Noir, with creative lighting throughout.
Tension is more suggestion and implied, rather than crimson lashed.
Peculiar resolution, though, and Beaumont’s wishy character is uneasy to modern eyes.

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Happy End - 2017 – 6/10

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Isabelle Huppert, I’m in!  Ditto any film directed by Haneke.
Together?  Outstanding!
Unfortunately, this is disappointing, especially for a Haneke film.
Various members of family deal with setbacks and their troubled lives.
Aside from Huppert’s character, each is unhappy, passive aggressive, dissatisfied.
Haneke uses long shots frequently, so one cannot exactly grasp what is going on.
Likewise muffled or unheard dialogue.
Those techniques of silence were used to memorable effect in 2005’s Caché or 2000’s Code Inconnu.
Both of those also bore mystery elements, perhaps sinister.
Happy End seems more melodrama, with characters who are banal, lack bite.

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Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story - 2017 – 6/10

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Near sighted documentary beckons like a siren, delivers strays.
An MGM player, renowned for her beauty, like Clara Bow her face is more remembered than her films.
Her filmography is barely sketched, likewise her six marriages.
A Wikipedia search will yield more substance on the woman herself.
Lamarr, the inventor, is the chief thrust of this documentary, other aspects are shortchanged.
Few of her inventions are actually shown, the main declaration is that she invented encrypted radio.
In essence, Wifi.
Her patent expired and she lacked the wherewithal to get research funding.
Happens.  There are untold thousands whose idea or invention got picked up and/or credited to others.
A good percentage of those were probably women.  Forgotten.  Then again, they were not film stars.
The writer-editor-director-producer (one in the same) delivers a one trick pony.
Disappointing,

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Aterrados - 2017 – 7/10
AKA – Terrified

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Enjoyment of this may depend on ones suspension of disbelief, or suspension of logic.
Within five minutes, you realize this house is haunted.
Yet the homeowners, and adjoining neighbor, close their eyes or pull the sheet over their heads.
The “presence” is not a friendly spirit.
This prologue sets the stage for the paranormal crew, experts with tech gear.
Film has a forbidding, claustrophobic tension throughout.
Limited backstory, though I accepted the segmented theory suggested by one.
Score based on how well done this is, though characters’ common sense is negative.

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The Place - 2017 – 7/10

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Slow burn Italian thriller / mystery set inside busy cafe known as The Place.
Solitary man with thick, tattered notebook spends most of his days there.
One by one, an endless string of guests sit across from him and make appeals.
Minor favors, life or death, or miracles.  “It’s doable,”  he says.
For a cost, a task.  One that will test their humanity.
The stranger is not so much confessor or godfather, but interlocutor or middle man.

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Love, Cecil - 2017 – 8/10

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Superb documentary of modern Renaissance artist, Cecil Beaton.
Photographer, painter, writer, designer, confidant – ha, less so with the latter.
He hit his stride with the Bright Young Things and Guinness Girls.
Meaning, landed gentry, the titled, faded nobility, the rich and famous of his youth.
Then he found work with actual royalty, the Windsor line.
Not bad for the aspirational class.
There is an undercurrent to Beaton, however, a palpable seething resentment and envy.
That barbed, keen edge lends bite to a not so feel good life.
The narration also supplies a sly wisdom to prospective artists and artistes.

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Passport To Pimlico - 1949 – 6/10

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Work crews cordon off a crater with an unexploded Luftwaffe bomb.
They underestimate local boys, who accidentally detonate it – with no fatalities.
And yet, this unearths documents that reveal Pimlico is actually part of Brittany.
Ration starved locals are soon at odds with Whitehall.
White-gloved war ensues, with feigned resentment and light hearted conflicts.
Amusing, though this feels dated.
The Blitz generation, who would have identified with shortages and rationing are gone.
Younger viewers might recognize want, but they may lack the older group’s grace and humour.

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Burning - 2018 – 6/10
AKA – Beoning // 버닝

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Slow burn mystery / thriller has been getting Hitchcock comparisons.
Do not be misled.  Hitchcock understood propulsive narration.  This lags.
Village youth works as courier in the city.
He meets a girl from his village who asks if he could watch her cat while she goes on holiday.
She returns with new friend, Ben, wealthy, bit of a decadent wastrel.
Ben “adopts” her like a pet.  When she disappears, he shrugs.
The village boy, who nursed a crush for her, wonders.  Suspects.
Problem is, it is impossible to tell if his suspicions are well founded, or paranoia.
Again, this is very slow going.  A character study, more than a clue laden mystery.

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Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud - 1995 – 6/10

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Nelly’s marriage is at an impasse.  Her husband has not worked in a few years.
Reads newspapers, magazines, complains of no recognition of his talent.
Lunching with her sister, she is introduced to Mr Arnaud, retired and wealthy.
And, he has been trying to write his memoirs … if he could only find a typist.
Opening ten minutes provide the template for the entire film.
Quiet character studies, layered conversations, small revelations.
Fine acting, excellent dialogue.  French buffs, certainly.  Others?  Possibly.

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