Recommend a movie

1,509 posts in this topic

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Demon Eye - 2019 - 4/10

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Way out on the moor wastelands, Dad, troubled by “something,” kills himself.
Next beat, his long estranged daughter flies in from the States to find out what happened.
Backstory pertains to a village girl from 1850s who fashioned a tin amulet and prophesied doom and gloom for sinning, wayward locals.
Right quick she is burnt (well, no one likes debbie downer) and the village begins to wither.
So, will that Yank lass find that long lost demon amulet?
Fine outdoor scenery undercut by damn near everything else.
An OK premise, but producers seem so obsessed with avoiding clichés that they pile on inventive, ridiculous alternatives.
For example, throughout, a crying baby doll wails and is supposedly scary.  To whom?  Audience males who’ve just found out they got their girlfriend’s sister pregnant?
Most of the characters resemble street bums – there is a  dog, we never see – John & Sadie?
Stupid film, that could have been better had fools not been in charge.
Almost, but not quite, a “bad cinema” pleasure, though connoisseurs will want to seek this out.
There is a birthing sequence that had me laughing out loud.

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Suite Française - 2014 - 6/10

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Can a sensitive Wehmacht officer and sensitive young wife of his enemy find love in Occupied France?
Paris has recently fallen and Nazi officers are billeted with local families.
In this film, at least, the homes have attractive females of varying availability.
While our lieutenant is a gentleman, others act on urges.
Although “based on a true story,” this is not remotely original.
The more interesting aspects are how villagers react to the invaders, and turn on each other.
That is secondary, however, to the doomed love of kindred spirits.
Weep n sleep.

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Posted

Alraune - 1928 - 6/10
AKA - A Daughter Of Destiny

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Silent version of Hanns Heinz Ewers’ mandrake tale stars Brigitte Helm.
The daughter of a prostitute and an executed criminal, she is the ward of an obsessive professor.
Around her is a litter of longing males, who leave her curiously uninterested.
Flawed film suffers broad over-acting and choppy narrative, perhaps from censored footage.
The movie brims with nervous energy throughout, and will appeal to Weimar cinema buffs.
Musical score is classical medleys (predominately Mussorgsky and Debussy) with jazz combo tossed into nightclub scenes.

There are two earlier versions.
A 1919 one, directed by Curtiz, considered lost, and an extant 1918 which I have been unable to track down.
There are also two later versions.

* * *

Alraune - 1930 - 6/10

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Sound version of the 1928. Brigitte Helm reprises the lead, with new director and cast.

The “mandrake myth” is most pronounced in this, as are the scientific dabbler’s motivations and collaborators.
In this, the princess, desiring an heir, is the trial run.
Alraune, however, is the breakthrough, an artificial experiment brought to adult fruition.
Helm not only plays Alraune, but also Alma, the prostitute incubator.
During her turn singing a cabaret number, one can easily understand why she was Von Sternberg’s original choice for Lola Lola in Der Blaue Angel.
Typical of an early talkie, static camerawork seems rudimentary, the pace is dreary.
Both prints I viewed were nth generation soft, and overlaid with hard Danish subs.
Sound leaves much to be desired, but is passable.

* * *

Alraune - 1952 - 6/10
AKA - Mandragore

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The luminous Hildegard Knef stars as the bewitching siren.
She is at times childlike, other times maliciously cruel.
Heavy mortality among male admirers, nonetheless.
Camerawork is high Gothic, and the costumes and interiors evoke Douglas Sirk.
As with other versions, the mandrake root is referenced, but the fable, the magic, is underplayed.
Instead, the subcurrent is of eugenics, which would have been an unsettling taboo in post World War II.
The Klimt inspired set design is a highlight.

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La Belle Endormie - 2010 - 6/10
AKA - The Sleeping Beauty

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Catherine Breillat mixes the sleeping princess with the Snow Queen, shuffles and extends the time.
An evil witch delivers the curse, a trio of less powerful faeries attempt to modify the curse.
Princess Anastasia, succumbing to the splinter, begins a long, dreamlike quest.
An imaginative reexamination of childhood fairy tales, with no special effects or computer gimmicks.
Breillat disorients expectations of an audience familiar with childhood tales.
Nice followup to the previous Perrault film, Barbe Bleue.

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The Bride (Nevesta) - 2017 - 5/10
AKA - Невеста

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Days before the wedding, the photographer’s bride dies.
The grieving man has a plan, however, as he staunchly believes a photograph can capture a soul.
And with the proper “vessel,” said soul can be transferred.  Resurrected.
Shuttle ahead 150 years, as the great grandson is now getting married.
First, though, he and his intended are summoned to the remote family estate.
There is a long family tradition, understand, that must be observed.
Despite an effective set-up and atmospheric set design, this film is a sad bungle.
The lead female has the expressions and charisma of a peanut.
Throughout, no one is intelligent.  Our lovers, senior family, young children.  Time and again, when faced with a decision, and you know they will select dumb or stupid, all and sundry select stupid.
Well worn clichés are milked.  When fleeing, for example, how many times can people trip and fall?  In this film, a lot apparently.  Then the old manor:  it has ducts, big enough to crawl through.  Sheesh.
What disturbs me most is that I remain convinced the of bones of this story were solid, and that it was lobotomized along the way.

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La Femme d'à Côté - 1981 - 7/10
AKA - The Woman Next Door

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Arlette and Bernard enjoy an idyllic life in their rural home outside Grenoble.
The nearby house stands empty, until Philippe moves in, who seems an excellent neighbor.
Finally, Philippe’s wife, Mathilde, arrives and the electricity between she and Bernard crackles.
While their spouses are blissfully unaware, viewers recognize the stormy history.
Bernard makes excuses, trying to avoid the old flame, but both are drawn to the fire.
Both know which buttons to press to stimulate physically and emotionally, and do so shamelessly.
Toxic love story, with thriller elements, should ring for many.
Most of us have been in addictive relationships, utterly destructive, that we cannot break from.
Older, wiser souls try to avoid contact for life.  Not so here.
Fanny Ardant absolutely bewitching.

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Lady You Shot Me: Life And Death Of Sam Cooke - 2017 - 5/10

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Inept biography plays more like “Cold Case” episode than fact filled documentary.
Fact:  Over 50 years have passed since Cooke was murdered.
Most of the participants from that period are deceased.  Only two interviewees either worked with or knew Cooke directly.
Fact:  There was an autopsy, there was a hearing where the sunglass wearing shooter was acquitted.
A lot of supposition and theorizing goes on in this, a fair amount runs the conspiracy line.
This is cheap looking throughout, with measured narration.
Not without interest, however.
Music:  Cooke’s tunes were not permitted to be used.  The rights holder, ABKCO, refused.
Older music fans need read no further.  If younger and curious, proceed.
ABKCO is / was Allen Klein’s umbrella company.
Klein was an accountant, who with methods aggressive and hostile, obtained higher royalties for musicians.
Yet somehow, the songwriting copyrights became his.
Aside from Cooke, “clients” included the Beatles, the Animals, Rolling Stones (to their  everlasting regret), labels Cameo Parkway and Philles.
The merest whiff of Klein, one of the most disreputable villains in modern music, galvanized my full attention.

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Belle Épine - 2010 - 5/10
AKA - Dear Prudence

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After being arrested for separate shoplifting, two teenage girls form a tenuous relationship.
Unlike what some reviews indicate, they do not “bond.”
One is bourgeois, has superior prospects, yet is adrift following the death of a parent.
The other is harder to pinpoint, save she of rougher cloth, with more limited means.
Both are drawn to an underground scene of midnight motorbike racing, and death.
None of these lost souls are portrayed well, nor are they particularly interesting.
Nor is the film, for that matter.
Premarital sex, midnight motorbikes, cigarettes.  These teen tropes were done in the 50s, likely before that.
Here, set in 2010, they are old fashioned and implausible.

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Milius - 2013 - 7/10

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Perceptive, if skewed, look at the man, his bombastic persona, and tremendous output.
Very – very little of his personal life is shown.
Amongst a plethora of impressive interviewees, were Milius’ son and daughter.
No mention of wives or marriages, or any personal details.
Consequently, most of the anecdotes or stories from others are “work” related.
For a doc of an artist, such is to the point, with very little fat.
Fans of this man will truly enjoy.  As Sam Elliott warns early on, however,  “John doesn’t write for women, and he doesn’t write for pussies.”  This documentary will appeal mostly to men, especially those who have won a few battles and lost a few.
Note - I will never view Big Lebowski’s Walter quite the same.

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