Recommend a movie

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Posted

Point Break - 1991 - 7/10

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Police thriller delivers the action in spades.
FBI rookie is transferred to Los Angeles, and is soon assigned to bank robbery division.
The best heist crew?  Outfit known as the ex-Presidents.  Numerous smash n grab, clean getaways.
Lab forensics soon zero in on residual evidence which points to the surfing scene.
Wait!  You mean surfers could be organized enough to stage and execute a daylight robbery?
Narrative rocks along throughout with surf sequences, shootouts, car chases, and extreme sports.
This has aged fairly well (though the notion of bank robberies was over by the 1970s).
AVOID the 2015 remake which has become a magnet for “worst ever” reviews.

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63 Up - 2019 -  8/10

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Ninth installment of this, at this point, tremendous documentary.
By now, participants are staring at mortality and taking a hard look back at their lives.
Unlike most of us, who enjoy faulty memory or nostalgia to deceive ourselves, they encounter a brutal looking glass every seven years.
For those who have access, the three part TV specials are generally superior to the movie condensations.
Highly influential.  There is an ongoing Russian series (I have, but have not watched),
I cannot imagine this launching in this Age Of The Selfie.

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Posted

99 River Street - 1953 - 7/10

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Ernie lands a devastating right hook and the champ slumps to the canvas.
Like the resurrected, the champ survives the ten count, and in the next two minutes, the prize fight sours for Ernie.
Two years later, he’s a washed up pug, a hack driver, married to a bitter scold with a roving eye.
A slick haired sugar daddy stirs the wife’s honey pot, slowly, persuasively, until she’s sopping wet and helps him yank a bag of ice from a pair of clutching dead hands.
Then the setup, the dimwitted husband, driving his taxi, chasing fool pipedreams and hopes.
Well shot Noir is outstanding example of how to create wonders with a minimal budget.
The script is packed with crosses and double-crosses, unexpected treachery, hard fists.
No matter how hard the ex-boxer fights, there is always the corpse stuffed in the back seat of his taxi.
A seething John Payne is perfect casting, whether resigned or about to detonate.

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Posted

Golden Exits - 2017 - 7/10

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New York professional archivist hires (another) young, female assistant.
She is Australian, inexperienced, pretty, and received coolly by the archivist’s wife and sister-in-law.
A thick undercurrent pervades the marriage, a tension that smells of infidelity.
The Aussie had been to the States a decade earlier and had developed a crush on a musician, whom she casually sets about stalking.  His male vanity is flattered, his wife’s radar hones in, however.
Very much a film dominated by conversations, said and unsaid, as well as glances and fleeting physical touches.

 

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Good Morning, Mister Hitler - 1993 - 6/10

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Cobbled documentary around “then-recent” found colour footage of 1939 Munich Festival of Art.
The images, filmed by amateur photographers, vary in quality but most are quite good, considering their age.
Talking heads include sons of original photographers, and a professor providing historical details.
AND - get this - a number of elderly ladies, watching in a theater, who had been participants in the festival.
They commented on what preparations were like, gasped when they viewed their young selves in the parade, talked about the giddy period of the Reich in 1939.  One surmised they had mixed emotions.
By now, most of that generation are gone.  While first hand comments are always useful, they best received with a grain of salt.
A useful companion to 1989’s Architecture Of Doom.

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Posted

La Donna Del Lago - 1965 - 6/10
AKA - The Possessed

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Mid-winter, and the writer returns to the lake hotel where he penned his previous novel.
Partly to recapture inspirational magic, more to see the blonde beauty who has been thinking of since he left.
Only thing … turns out she is dead.  Suicide, says the official report.  Murder whispers the villagers.
So, does he start on his book?  Of course not, he starts asking questions.
The deeper he digs into the mystery, the more false trails he unearths, not to mention numerous nightmare sequences, designed to bewilder the viewers.
Moody, atmospheric tale photographed in a high Gothic style, though the sound mix is overly aggressive.
All in all, a good mystery.

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Posted

The Day Of The Wolves - 1971 -  6/10

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Very interesting el cheapo caper film.
First fifteen minutes are wordless as we watch various individuals - assassin, bank robber, second story man - ply their trade, then get recruited for a big job.
The plan, organized by Number 1, is to take down a small desert town.
The men all wear beards and go by numbers, not their names.  If any get caught, they can’t tell the Feds jack.
Pace bogs midway with endless rehearsals and town politics, until the robbery unfolds in a blaze of bullets.
Well cast with name actors, and lesser known, though no bad acting.
Soundtrack, a mix of psychedelia and funk, is pretty good.
Film stock is bad, the look is cheap, editing is jumpy.  In short, Grindhouse fare.
I bet 5¢ that Mr. Tarantino saw this at one point and it influenced Reservoir Dogs.

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Posted

Goodnight Brooklyn - 2016 - 7/10

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The last days of the Brooklyn music club, Death By Audio.
Told by some of the bands who performed there, people who launched the venue, and employees.
Who’s not there?  The landlord, who was delighted that anyone would want to rent a building that should have been demolished.  Until, Brooklyn became trendy and the property worth a goldmine.
Who else declines to participate?  Why, the new building neighbors, who coveted than then pushed out the club.
Vice Media, who built their credibility being edgy, friendly to the underground.
Enjoyable documentary, though a familiar, if sad tale.
Clubs disappear all the time.  CBGB, The Cavern, The Sands, Gazzarri's, Bronco Bowl, The Ad Lib, Le Chabanais...

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Posted

L’Amant Double - 2017 -  6/10
AKA -  Double Lover

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Ex model, now museum attendant, sees a psychiatrist for personal issues.
Quicker than you can read the professional ethics guidelines, they have an affair, and she moves in with him.
Then, like Pandora, she begins to wonder about this perfect partner.
And soon discovers he has a secret twin.  Also a psychiatrist!
Or - is this simply him, combing his hair differently?
Or - maybe she isn’t exactly cured.  Is she imagining things?

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François Ozon thriller lurches between suspense and far-fetched.
More sex and nudity than some cultures will approve of, as well as mirrors (for those of you into symbolism) in almost every scene.

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The Forgotten Plague - 2015 - 6/10

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Documentary on tuberculosis focuses less on the disease (possibly the most lethal, killing roughly 25% of the population for centuries), but rather on the search for the cure.
TB was only recently been “cured” in the 1950s, so this features many survivors sharing firsthand memories of life in the wards, in the sanatoriums.
Peppered with photos, the doc is well organized, though the tone is dry and detached.
Well done, but surprisingly dull.
Cured is a curious word.  As of 2017 there were 10M cases of TB on the planet.

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The Flu That Killed Fifty Million - 2018 -  7/10

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Excellent documentary of the influenza that killed 50-100 million in 1918-1919.
Far, far more than died in the Great War.
Accurately pinpoints where it began (Kansas, not Spain) and the exact individual.
Pioneering efforts to discover and control were limited by technological shortcomings, as well as officialdom in denial.
For the latter, think climate change deniers who hold political power.
Modern reenactments are minimal, this relies more on vintage photos, newsreels, charts.
Great if you are into this.  Afterthought is not if there will be another pandemic, but when.

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Posted

Il Mulino Delle Donne di Pietra - 1960 - 6/10
AKA - Mill Of The Stone Women

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Euro horror tale, set in the 1800s, is more Gothic mystery.
Young Flemish writer travels to famed professor’s windmill research details for a soon to be published monograph.
He meets old friends, this childhood flame, the hot tavern singer, and the professor’s exotic daughter.
Meek mannered she is not, the daughter soon puts a move on the writer and has her way with him.
Complications ensue.
Beautiful yes, but there is something not right about the girl.
Slow, but OK mystery, borrows a page or two from classic stories, and has excellent production values.
Note:  An Italian film, my copy was dubbed in French, though from time to time, dubbing switched to English.
Moreover, the English subtitles, whenever the English language began, the subs switched to French.

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Posted

Juarez 2045 - 2017 - 4/10

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Welcome to sunny Mexico, amigos!
Mexican cartel head acquires military robots to reinforce his team.
According to news flashes, carnage and rivers of blood spew in his wake.
The US of A sends in a black ops squad of Marines to take him down.
Fairly crappy movie all the way around.  Bad script, poor acting, sorry camerawork.
Haters of hand held cinematography will be seasick during battle sequences.
Much of this defies logic.  Marines wear combat gear throughout, either in the wastes or Juarez proper.
With more budget, this might be better, though the concept is still a knockoff.

 

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Hungry Hearts - 2014 - 6/10

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Jude and Mina meet cute, bounce the bedsprings, marry, have a baby!  The End.
Instead, as with most partnerships, they soon begin bickering.
How to raise the child, what foods to feed the child, what to expose the child to, what to shelter it from.
One parent is over-protective to the nth degree.  That said, food, water, air, all are less than safe.
Uncomfortable battle plays out, which will resonate with keep viewers who distrust the medical establishment, who refuse vaccinations, as well as parents who will do anything to keep their child healthy and safe.
Speaking of “safe,” this would complement 1995’s Safe with Julianne Moore.
For those who don’t have enough to worry about already.

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The Escape - 2017 - 7/10

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Gemma Arterton haunting as mother at the end of her rope.
Breakfast, hustle the children to school, shop, clean house, retrieve children, prepare dinner …
The children scream, fight, make messes.  The husband, while sympathetic has his own needs.
She begins to fray at the seams, and most around her look on.
For all that, this is a quiet film.  Moody.
Tara is mostly silent, though expressions and feelings play out across her face.
Not an emotional power drama, a family losing their anchor.

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El Cuerpo - 2012 - 7/10
AKA - The Body

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Diabolically clever thriller from Spain.
Wealthy, powerful woman dies mysteriously, and police begin sniffing her much younger, trophy husband.
Early on, her body disappears from the official morgue.  No body, no autopsy.
And then, the smug husband begins receiving messages, clues, that maybe his wife ain’t so dead.
Events transpire during a long night inside the facility, while a ominous storm rages outside.
Highly effective plotting, though plausibility teeters on the edge at times.
Whodunit and why should keep most guessing until the end.

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Edie - 2017 - 6/10

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Geriatric widow decides she want to scale Scotland’s Suilven.
Travels to Scotland, does not fit in, and becomes an object of discreet ridicule.
She is aware, however, that locals see only her for her purse.
This self-awareness, and the unpleasant edge, keep this from being feel good hokum.
There are wonderful scenes of her existing in the moment, studying Life and Nature, capturing, perhaps, the last fond memories.
Sheila Hancock was 83 when she filmed this, and became to oldest person to scale Suilven.
Enjoyment might depend on how you feel about old people, and how close you are to the Reaper.

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Red, White And Zero - 1967 - 6/10

Three experimental British shorts.
The first one, a silent with Zero Mostel, is an tedious farce.  A bit like Benny Hill, though more forced and without Hill’s mischievous tone.  Luckily this is the briefest, though I docked the series a point because of it.

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Next is “The White Van” where an office girl hops a Manchester van to “see the city.”
Surreal, banal, funny, depressing.
Never dull, the tour is an odd, rather hypnotic journey.
The most mundane scenes of the everyday slice, mixed with color exotica.
No Swinging  Sixties, this.
Director Lindsay Anderson would strike gold soon after with If … O Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital

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Finally Vanessa Redgrave as a cabaret singer who goes through her day, pretty much in song.
She daydreams of past relationships (Michael York & Douglas Fairbanks Jr), sings to unappreciative punters in the nightclub, chases the ghost of happiness.
Colours in this are vibrant, in contrast to the emptiness of her life.
Although the songs are beguiling, they lack hooks and are not especially memorable.

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Nordfor Sola - 2012 - 7/10
AKA - North Of The Sun

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Surfers Inge and Jørn find a secluded bay, perfect for riding the waves.
Location, north of the Arctic Circle in Norway.
The pair decide to overwinter there, and build a cabin out of driftwood and debris.
During the gray, sunless days, they hit the beach!  No telling how cold the water is.
The guys do more than surf, however, they clean up the beach where they are, try to live off salvage.
Their attitude is terrific.  They don’t seem to fight, they laugh, they stoically endure bitter cold.
And they are disconnected.  No electricity, no WiFi, no modcons.  No World Wide Web.
Photography is usually better than the weather.  The frigid surfing is unbelievable.

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Faust - 1994 - 7/10
AKA - Lesson Faust

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Paper flyers are pushed onto pedestrians, including our unnamed gentleman.
He sees a crude map, which he discards.  Once home, a copy of the map lies on his desk.
Curiosity wins out.
Following directions on the map, he finds a locked door, then a key, and he enters the rabbit hole.
Soon enough, he changes from ordinary soul to lead actor to Doktor Faustus.
Almost surreal interpretation of the Faust legend involves actors, marionettes, claymotion, cutouts.
This is a collision of theatre boards, pageant play, modern banalities.
Mephistopheles, and the “deal,” do not appear until a third of the way in.
Often confusing, never dull, multiple layers unroll simultaneously at times.

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