Recommend a movie

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El Monte De Las Bujas - 1973 - 5/10
AKA - The Witches Mountain

Early on, we follow Carla as she arrives home to discover her cat has been killed.
By her young sister-cousin-daughter (?), because the cat terrorized her pet snake.
In quick order, Carla sets fire to the snake and child, flees to her ex-boyfriend (who says No), then drops from the film.
From there, the narrative follows the ex, Mario, a photographer, who takes an assignment to a cursed mountain.
Yeah, hang on, the story jumps throughout.
Though desolate, Mario’s camera catches images in the abandoned village, which the eye overlooks.

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I enjoyed the photography.  The atmosphere is forbidding, and the clothes and look drip 1970’s.
The ending is rushed and downright confusing.  Nor is there any sort of mountain backstory.
Music reminiscent of Diamanda Galás.
Deeply flawed film “may” appeal to those who appreciate mood over mayhem.

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Posted

Einsatzgruppen:  The Nazi Death Squads - 2009 - 7/10

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Four part documentary of the units that accompanied or followed the Wehrmacht.
Maps, disturbing home movies, somber music, and interviewees.
The interviewees include historians, survivors, witnesses, and men who pulled the triggers.
The home movies are revealing on two levels.  How German officers photographed the dirty work carried out by Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians against Jews, Catholics, intelligentsia, neighbors …
And that those films would have been developed back in the Fatherland, challenging the later claim of,  “We didn’t know!  That wasn’t anyone I knew!”
Similar themes can be found in Lost Home Movies Of Nazi Germany (2019).
Both are powerful reminders of what humanity is capable of.  And likely will be of in our future.

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Where’s My Roy Cohn? - 2019 - 8/10

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Ever wonder why democracy swallows poison?  Because of gullible suckers, like you and me.
Beady-eyed documentary targets the corrupt legal gun for hire.
The whisperer in Senator McCarthy’s ear, Mafioso counselor, mentor to Trump.
Never concede, never apologize, attack, double-down, attack.
This seems fairly accurate (I’ve read about Cohn for decades).
If you want to see the US President’s coach, watch this.
Not that the serpent is a newcomer to the global garden.
The amoral individual endures across ancient Rome to Stalinist CCCP into current government cabinets.

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The Prowler - 1951 - 6/10

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Outside the window, the prowler frightens a female wearing only a towel.
Two cops arrive.  The junior one eyes the spacious house, expensive furniture, and the soft curves.
The cop, Webb, wants a taste.  All of it.  Including that sweet cake, left lonely.
And she could be had, too.  Her husband neglects her, she simmers underneath, and she’s weak.
“Don’t.  Stop.  We can’t,”  she moans as her arm tightens around Webb’s neck, pulling him into the folds.
Nasty, cynical Noir is powered by Van Heflin’s riveting performance.
He’s bitter, manipulative, terrified, resentful, murderous.
His facial expressions dance, instant by instant.
Struggle, scheme, play your hand.  For what, eightball?  Do you still feel lucky?

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The Black Cat - 1981 -  6/10
AKA - Gatto Nero

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Alright feline fanatics, and cat haters, line up!
In small village England, a medium tries to communicate with the dead.
He’d best hurry, because the deaths mount.  All instigated by a growling black cat!
Odd Lucia Fulci film, loosely based on Poe (ha!), suffers from almost incoherent plot and poorly interacting characters.
The demises, of which there are quite a few, differ and are imaginative, especially when you keep in mind that the cat has to be a plausible killer.
Nonetheless, I’d like to hear how the feline(s) took direction.

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Day Of Resurrection - 1980 -  4/10
AKA - Virus

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You visit granddad at the nursing home.  He could be better, or far, far worse.
In the lobby, strapped to wheelchairs, sit glass eyed residents, brains riddled with Alzheimer’s, and doped with sedatives to keep them docile.  All have the IQ of a carrot.
Any of those human vegetables could have edited a better version of this Japan doomsday film than did the Hollywood turnips.

Pentagon bioweapons develop a virus that can exterminate life.
Not to fear, it is safely locked away in –– Wait!  Now East German operatives have a vial and are flying to Moscow to –  Oh no!  They’ve hit an air pocket!  Look out!  There’s a mountain!  Ka-boom!!!  And the dying starts.
Headliners expire first (Glenn Ford, Sonny Chiba, Robert Vaughn, Ken Ogata, Henry Silva).
Leaving George Kennedy and his band of 800 survivors in Antarctica as the final humans.
800 men, 8 women.  The latter are informed they will need to be generous, in a new, “sharing” world.
Despite explosions here and there, this movie is mind numbingly boring.
The full length, original Japanese version is allegedly superior.  I wouldn’t know, nor will I ever.

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Pain And Glory - 2019 - 6/10
AKA - Dolor y Gloria

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I watched because this is by Almodóvar, who I view as a spiritual nephew of Woody Allen.
And, as with Allen, just because this bears Almodóvar’s name, the result may not be a masterpiece.
Anyway, a renowned director (Almodóvar), suffers physical pain and creative crises.
Childhood reveries wash over his thoughts, he tries to connect with old friends and colleagues.
Banderas is exemplary is this, yet the actual story is so much watered down milk.
Damn little of the life on parade is noteworthy or compelling.
Perhaps golden to the aging director, the chapters come across as banal.

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Flirting With Fate - 1916 - 6/10

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August is broke, behind on rent, can’t feed his two dogs.  What’s his problem?
Oh, he’s a struggling artist.  Say no more.
Still, he encounters a prim, starchy type who makes his heart go boom-boom-boom.
Misunderstandings follow and then she troths to a rival.
In despair, Auggie hires Automatic Joe to murder him!
At which point, Fate laughs and turns the artist’s fortunes around.
Then the pace roars full throttle, with madcap chases, dizzying stunts, and farce humor.
Creaky film, threadbare plot, yet an excellent chance to witness Douglas Fairbanks in his prime.
Before he started making longer, heroic adventure films (not that those are lesser).

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Mrs. Lowry & Son -  2019 - 6/10

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By day, L S Lowry collects rent in impoverished neighborhoods.
At night, he dotes on his mother and paints his thoughts and moods on canvas.
His mother, who once had social aspirations, is controlling, cruel, and belittling.
No encouragement from that quarter whatsoever.
Not so much a character study as a “couple” study.  Mother and son.
Aside from brief street scenes, and a few ghostly flashbacks, the dramatics play out inside their shared flat.
Acting is superb, but this is very stagebound.
Downbeat film may appeal to creative sorts, who generally receive limited encouragement.

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Ready Or Not - 2019 - 6/10

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Family traditions are often the worst, especially those of the in-laws, particularly “new” in-laws.
Poor but pure Grace marries Alex, filthy rich, member of a family of uncountable wealth.
Nightfall after every wedding, there is a game, played by all.
Almost always inconsequential.  Harmless.  On rare occasions, though …
Grace draws the dire hand.  She runs for her life, the family draw traditional weapons.
Old premise is reworked as foul mouthed, savage comedy.

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Color Out Of Space - 2019 - 5/10

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“Hey, J J, listen to this!  Nicolas Cage doing a Lovecraft movie!”
–  Lovecraft.  As in romance?  Or Kama Sutra bouncing?
“A space rock strikes a farm in the backwoods!  Then bizarre things start spreading out.”
– Oh, a remake of that “Annihilation” movie?
“No one believes the farmer, meanwhile colored lights turn everything weird.”
– Like in “Annihilation”?  Only with crafty love sex, right?  Like “Lifeforce”?  Whoa!  Loved that one!  None of those tentacles and testicles though.
“Who needs sex when we got Cage!  Who’s gonna go full-bore Nick Cage wacko in the last act.”
– What he does.  Any partnership funding?  Help defray costs?
“Yeah!  Llama Owners Worldwide are kicking in $500 and fresh milk so long as we include llamas in the story.”
– OK, what’s another million, more or less.  Who’s the target audience?
“Need you ask?”

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La Storia Vera Della Signora Dalle Camelie - 1981 - 6/10
AKA - Lady Of The Camellias

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Sumptuous dramatization of Alphonsine Plessis.
Her rise from impoverished beggar, to seamstress, prostitute, courtesan.
Difference between the latter two seems money.  Clientele.  Rich clientele.
Story rollicks along quick march, touching the bases of a shallow life.
Glossy trash.
Based on Marie Duplessis who was likely the Kim Kardashian of her era, and about as interesting.

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Sprengbagger 1010 - 1929 - 6/10
AKA - Explodigger 1010

After grueling nonstop work, Engineer Hartmann develops plans for a dynamite packing excavator.
Think gigantic strip mining machine.

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Hartmann suffers burn out, so he heads to the bucolic countryside.
There farmers still harvest using scythes, horses draw wagons, and the windmill is the focus.
Relaxing, enjoying rural downtime, Hartmann discovers coal, a mountain of it, lies under the soil.
“Summon the explodigger!”
Film jerks back and forth between the stridency of machines and the lethargy of wheat.
To further hammer the message, our engineer is torn between his modern assistant and gentry lass.

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Ham fisted tale, somewhat reminiscent of Metropolis, though lacking any subtlety.
Music, based on original score, is extremely aggressive, even in the backwoods.
Acting is over the top, by 1929 or any standards.

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Poms - 2019 - 5/10

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Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman play residents in a retirement community.
They decline the existing, rather cliquish, clubs, and instead form a cheerleading squad.
I kid you not.  (And more proof I don’t control the remote.)
Formulaic, clichéd storyline wastes a good cast trapped in by-the-numbers script.
Who was the target audience anyway?  Over 60’s females?  Do enough still frequent movie houses to make a hit?
The females I watched this with enjoyed Poms more than I, and they laughed throughout.
Go figure.

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Yakuza Goddess:  Erotic Code Of Honor - 1973 - 6/10
AKA - Yakuza Kannon: Iro Jingi  //  やくざ観音 情女仁義

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A monk rescues a young woman from a group of mob enforcers.
Soon afterward, they succumb to fevered passions and share fluids beside a raging waterfall.
She is the daughter of a Yakuza boss – and – as it turns out, half sister to the monk.
Shame, guilt, mortification?  Nope.  Instead,  “Oh, that explains why we are attracted to each other!”
Their couplings rollick along, amidst chases and intergang shootouts.
The artistry in this pinku leaves a lot to be desired.
Any sequence with bush brushing is obscured by a big black square.

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Dirty God - 2019 - 7/10

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Jade is a victim / survivor of an acid attack.
The NHS repairs the facial damage, but they do not, nor seemingly will not, restore her beauty.
Jade is poor, young (I’d guess 18), lives with her mom in a council estate, or crashes on a friend’s couch.
She also has a daughter, though she is an indifferent mother, at best.
More than anything. Jade desperately wants a reset button to restore her life before the disfigurement.
The film reads like a book of bad decisions.
Many of those she makes because she is young and inexperienced.
Her choices, moreover, are narrow, restricted, confined by limitations of education, wealth, class.
While this evokes Ken Loach, a trickle of redemption weeps in and out, offering the sliver of hope.

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Aquarela - 2018 - 6/10

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Visual presentation of water.  Icebound, pounding rain, flooding.
Message film showing the influence of global warming on water.
The first 49 minutes reveal autos crashing through once solid ice short-cuts, and glaciers calving icebergs.
Followed by rain swept seas.  Finally, submerged towns and residences.
Politicians are doubtless working round the clock the reverse potential catastrophe.
Waterworld came out in 1995, in case someone argues we never saw this coming.

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The Little American - 1917 - 6/10

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Stateside, circa 1913, Abigail toys with two suitors.  A dashing Frenchman and a handsome German.
Before she has to choose, both return to their native lands as the Great War begins.
No sooner is the Von Schlieffen Plan implemented, than Abigail inherits a chateau in rural France!
She sets sail on the Lusitania - oops! - yet miraculously survives and reaches her chateau …
Just as a German division seizes it for a command headquarters.
Women are raped, villagers shot, looting is widespread.
Propaganda film, well directed by Cecil B DeMille, moves briskly and piles on the excesses.
I don’t know whether intentional or not, but the Germans officers reminded me of Von Hindenburg and Ludendorff.
For folks who think Mary Pickford only played little girls, check this.
(Every copy I have ever watched suffers poor video resolution.)

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Don Wilson Of The Navy - 1942 - 6/10

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Twelve part serial does double duty as recruiting tool.
Don and his sidekick Red fight a band of saboteurs, kidnappers, and all around traitors.
Led by the ever dastardly Scorpion who seems to have acquired Emperor Ming’s video communicator.
Underground bases, secret submarines, car chases, loads of fisticuffs.
Don and Red wear their Navy whites throughout and those seldom stain or get dirty.
Most of the cliffs are cheats, and, dastardly as Scorpion is, there is no reason for his activities.

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The Last Tree - 2019 - 6/10

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Femi lives in the countryside with his foster mother.
He has friends, does well in school, is accepted and liked.
His mother arrives, however, asserts her custody rights, and drives him to her London council flat.
Household chores and duties are assigned.  Non compliance earns physical punishment.
Essentially a character study of Femi, an arc from innocent child to gang leader’s lieutenant.
Narrative is less than fluid, viewers will have to pay attention, fill in gaps, make assumptions.

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