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Le Dos Au Mur - 1958 - 7/10
AKA - Back To The Wall

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Jacques thought Gloria loved him.  Their three year marriage, passionate and strong.
Until he realized he was a fool, a sap, the classic cuckold.
There was a younger man.  A struggling actor, with a two seat sport car.
A feckless man who had discarded Gloria years before, yet her flame for him burned.
Jacques, rich, powerful, sets out to destroy the relationship.
Dark mystery, filled with shadows, positions the infatuated couple against a calculating, faceless foe.
Cruelty runs hand in hand with despair in bleak gamesmanship.
Everyone earns a mix of sympathy and disdain.


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Vultural

Thelma - 2017 - 7/10

Freshman student, Thelma, has trouble fitting into campus life.
Trouble making friends, over-protective parents, and her fundamental religious upbringing.
Even among the faithful, however, she had trouble fitting in.

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Compounding matters, Thelma begins suffering seizures.
Quick diagnosis of epilepsy would be an error.  Rather, psychogenic –––
This is marketed as horror, but is closer to paranormal.
Another pitch is as a “lesbian story,” but is more sexual experimentation.
Well done, though, overlooking the father, the film never caught fire for me.


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Vultural

Under Siege - 1992 - 6/10

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Guilty pleasure here, from the era of “action heroes” (which bloated into “super heroes”)
Steven Seagal plays lowly Navy cook on battleship that falls under the control of mercenaries.
Seagal, you guessed it, more than a mere cook, takes on the hijackers.
Mindless film benefits from excellent villains, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey.
Even the second tier villains are great.
Seagal, also, is not a one man show.  He receives assistance from supporting characters.
Followed by an inferior sequel and a seemingly endless stream of chest-thumping duds for Seagal.


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Vultural

A Rainy  Day In New York - 2019 - 6/10

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Middling Woody Allen effort of collegiate couple heading to Manhattan.
In Gotham, they get separated and have different adventures.
The girl meets the wary, cult director and assorted creative types.
The boy deals with family expectations, and individuals from his past.
Great looking film, lensed by Sorano (who also shot Café Society and Wonder Wheel).
The dialogue is too arch and twee for my liking.  No one, not even on live theatre, talks like this.
Lead actor Timothée Chalamet seems to be mimicking Woody Allen performances.
This grew on me.  Probably on a par with Irrational Man.

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Vultural

Miss Fisher & The Crypt Of Tears - 2020 - 5/10

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Resistance is futile.
My outlook when I was first told this series was crowd-funding shekels for a film version.
Miss Fisher heads to the Mideast to free an innocent, dispel a curse.
Fisher’s character is now written as Emma Peel doing an Indiana Jones reboot.
Her Steed, Inspector Jack, trails after her like a mopey discarded suitor.
To be blunt, Detective Jack ought to be given the ole heave ho from the “guy club.”
Story is unoriginal, it looks cheap, and the charm (and cast) of the series is absent.
For fashion devotees, Phyrne’s wardrobe is limited.


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Vultural

Agatha And The Curse Of Ishtar - 2019 - 6/10

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Soured by that Miss Fisher misfire?  Try this.
Miss Christie, newly divorced, dwells on the mystery at hand.  Mysteries, actually.
She is in Iraq, visiting archeological sites, and wanders into a murder.
And then another.
Not only is she embroiled in murders, and deepening mysteries, she meets one Max Mallowan.
Fans of Agatha Christie, this is an entertaining homage, cleverly scripted by someone who knows her work.
There are in-jokes, classic setups, and a touch of romance.
On the downside, dialogue has been extensively, and poorly, looped.
Sync is noticeably off, and it sounds as if it had been recorded in a particularly resonant chamber.


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Vultural

The Phantom Ship - 1935 - 5/10

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“Alright!  Which one of you done it?  I know it’s one of you!”
The captain questions the remaining crewmen.
Fictional yarn of the Mary Celeste, found adrift and abandoned in 1872.
Slow moving, despite corpses appearing at frequent intervals.
And whoever mustered the crew should have squinted and said,
“You look like Bela Lugosi.”


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Vultural

The Hunt - 2020 - 6/10

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A passel of gagged strangers wake up in woodlands, far, far from home.
They make their way to a clearing and open a big ole crate, stuffed with weapons.
Whoo dog!
Better, most of these folks display ready familiarity with firearms and ammo.
Straight off, they recognize they’ve been setup by the Illuminati, or the Elites, or the 1%.
The shadow government, the deep state.  And they could be right…
But then the killing starts.
Terrifically funny film, a carnival ride into “most dangerous game” territory.
Peppered with references to bleeding heart liberal know-it-alls, and 2nd Amendment gun happy survivalists.
For now, both sides of the US political spectrum are crying foul.  Crybabies.
This may date badly in ten years, so saddle up already!


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Vultural

Sorry We Missed You - 2019 - 6/10

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During the interview, Ricky starts listing his work experience.
A lot of job skills.  Can he not hold a job any length?  Or does he have crap luck?
Ricky lands the driver position for a delivery outfit.
This is a franchise, though.  Independent contractor.  He has to buy his own delivery truck.  Then work like hell because the debt is crushing.
I kept yelling at the film,  “Don’t do this.”  “Dude, think!”  “Don’t get into debt.”
Yet, the hand is dealt, and you play as best you can.
Ken Loach film is a blistering look at the gig economy.


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Vultural

Influenza 1918 - 1998 - 6/10

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Part of the “American Experience” series.
As such, there are a couple of talking head “experts” along with a host of individuals sharing their memories.
So you have these seniors, who were young children in 1918, airing their experiences.
There are newsreels, vintage photos, yet minimal science, scant history.
In contrast, The Flu That Killed 50 Million from 2018, kept a detailed history and reenacted dialogue using letters, journals and memoirs.  That version gets the nod from me because the history is better.
Topical - US politicians in 1918 denied the growing crisis and kept reassuring the public.
One senior gave a good definition of their “age of innocence.”
“… we really didn't know what was ahead …”


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Vultural

Broadway Love - 1918 - 5/10

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Small town Midge tries her luck on Broadway.
High-flying friend, Cherry Blow, invites her to her nonstop flapper parties,
Both are chorus girls, but Cherry knows how to drain men’s wallets, and their mojo..
Several contrived romantic adventures follow, as does Midge’s ex beau, trying to propose.
The wild parties are fun, but the menfolk are a dull lot.
More so is Midge, played by low-wattage Dorothy Phillips, who had a career playing prim, wholesome types.
Juanita (anyone got cocaine?) Hansen plays the gold digging Cherry.
Eve Southern has small, smoking role as girl who flirts with Midge’s small town suitor.
Who’s the suitor?  Lon Chaney!
With this cast, and different script, oh, if only.
The print I saw was OK.


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Vultural

The Gentlemen - 2019 - 6/10

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Fun, return to “form” for director Guy Ritchie.
Shaggy dog tale of reefer baron hoping to ease into gentrified retirement.
Usurpers, sensing the king may be weakening, began to attack on multiple fronts.
The plot is pieced together by an oily, blackmailing tabloid reporter (Hugh Grant).
As with previous Ritchie crime dramas, confusion slowly coalesces into a tight finish.
Should please fans very much.
As far as return to “form,”  Mr. Ritchie as a writer and director has grown nary an inch since Lock Stock Two Smoking Barrels almost 20 years ago.


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alex28

The Platform (2019)

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. One only food platform and two minutes per day to feed from up to down. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole

 

 


Changing the world. One subtitle at a time.

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Vultural

I Am Mother - 2019 - 6/10

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Mother and Daughter share a moment.
Young girl is raised from embryo to teen by protective android.
What I thought was a vast spacecraft turned out to be a heavily secured installation.
You realize this once intruders arrive.  A rodent, then a wounded female human.
The woman tells of the world outside, and her version conflicts with Mother’s.
Trust is delicate, at any age, and the girl is a young teen.
The fresh voice, the whisperer, beckons, casting viewers into the daughter’s role.
Wondering who to believe.


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Vultural

Vagabond - 1985 -  7/10
AKA - Sans Toit Ni Loi

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The freedom of the road.
Midwinter.  The young female drifts into the country region, unwashed, clearly broke.
She sets up her tent wherever, one time in a graveyard, or sneaks into abandoned houses.
Men, she’ll tag along with, until the reefer is gone, or she tires of them.
From time to time, someone will help her out.
Also from time to time, villagers talk directly, voicing their opinion of the girl.
The camera is indifferent, giving neither backstory nor explanations.
18 year old Sandrine Bonnaire is brilliant as Mona or Simone.  Her character is not an empty soul, she is simply uncompromising, unflinching in her avoidance of ordinary life, or the bourgeois.


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Vultural

Salón México - 1949 - 6/10

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Mercedes works to exhaustion, denying herself, keeping her young sister in an exclusive school.
Her ambitions for her straight A sister?  To be a doctor.  For herself, not so much.
Mercedes hustles at the Salon Mexico, a bustling cantina filled with the gamut of turistas and lowlifes.
She competes in dances, is a companion, and - unspoken - a B-girl.
Parts of this are wonderful.  There’s a bit of crime business that’s well shot and exciting to watch.
The interior of Salon Mexico hails from when Mexico meant exotic.  South Of The Border.
It’s smoky, steamy, sweaty, sexy.  The floor pulses with life.
The other side of the story is Mercedes’ guilt, and the innocent purity of her sister.
This aspect is corny melodrama.  The suffering, the anguish.
Photography is imaginative and evocative  throughout.


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Vultural

47 Meters Down:  Uncaged - 2019 - 6/10

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In name sequel to 2016’s In The Deep, (later renamed “47 Meters Down.”)
This time there is an underground city, hidden by the Mayans from the Conquistadors.
With rising sea waters, it’s now underwater.  It had been undiscovered, until recently.
Four high school girls descend with 100” of air, not suspecting a great white shark might hunt down there.
Photography is murky, which is good and bad.  The shark is an excellent creation.
The girls scream and screech throughout.  The scriptwriter gave them moronic dialogue.
Superlatives abound.  “Amazing!”  “Crazy!”  “Insane!”  “Cool!”  “Creepy!”
It’s like the writer hates females, so he made them so stupid viewers would cheer on the shark.
Passable waste of time.


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Vultural

The Case Of The Krimi - 2018 - 6/10

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Brief documentary, presented by Marcus Stiglegger.
Charts the genesis, heyday, and collapse of Krimi films.
The look originated in Expressionism, the stories from 1920’s crime novels by Edgar Wallace.
Fast paced crime yarns, set in London (Hamburg), often with Klaus Kinski as villain.
As  the era progressed, films grew sillier and spawned spoofs.
Breezy overview of the Krimi subgenre, which became an important influence on Giallo.


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Vultural

Yellow Fever:  The Rise And Fall Of The Giallo - 2016 - 7/10

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From those lurid yellow books and the tropes of Krimi.
Add the high fashion and opulent interiors, along with those deadly, shiny knives.
Nicely done documentary will have people wanting more (read a book, folks), but there is plenty here.
Clips from keys films, analysis of innovations.  Key players such a Argento, Fulci, Bava …
Critics predominate among the talking heads, with director Argento and actress Barbara Bouchet recollecting.
Missing many people, but there is a recent documentary out there, All The Colors Of Giallo.
Those who have several Giallos under their viewing belt will enjoy this more.


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Vultural

Amazon:  What They Know About Us - 2020 - 6/10

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Hey, it’s just a little bit of my privacy, right?
And there’s so much I get in return!
Documentary is not so much the rise and dominance of the commercial behemoth, but more it’s morphing into a data-mining and surveillance corporation.
Insiders include early employees and early investors.  Few insiders are from 2006 onward.
Not necessarily chilling, unless you have an Alexi listening device in your home (one guy had 4).
And yes, Corporate employees do listen to recordings from inside homes, but those are random and anonymous, designed to make life better and easier.
Disclosure:  Of the FAANGs, I shun four of them, but it is damn hard to bypass Amazon.


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