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We’ll Take Manhattan - 2012 - 6/10

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1962, David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton land in New York to do a photo-shoot for Vogue.
Their chaperone, senior editor “Lady Clare” represents the tried and true, upper crust look.
Firebrand Bailey is brimming with new ideas, offbeat angles, freeform shooting.
In the middle is inexperienced Shrimpton, who lacks the class and looks of glamour doyens.
Sharp cinematography throughout.  (How did they make the UN, which looked rundown last time I saw it, appear pristine?)
I think the history is so-so, yet acceptable.
My bride, however, steeped in “fashion,” from current to the 60’s of her youth, nitpicked every now and then.
Aside from songs, the score seems from Cool Jazz.


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Vultural

Last Breath - 2019 - 6/10

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Doc about deep sea diver, Chris Lemons, working in the North Sea.
He inspects and maintains undersea oil wells, attached to a diving bell via lengthy umbilical.
Events go disastrous (of course, otherwise there would be no doc).
The umbilical is severed, Chris is stuck on the freezing cold, black bottom, his air dwindling.
Interviews and a lot of amazing footage.
Not a monumental documentary, though worthwhile, and hopeful for those who believe in luck or Grace.


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Vultural

Occhi di Cristallo - 2004 - 6/10
AKA - Eyes Of Crystal

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A series of bizarre, ritualistic killings and dismemberments stymie the Italian police.
Clues are deliberately left at each scene, pointing, perhaps to the next murder.
Cleverly plotted, yet underlying this neo-Giallo is calculation.
The troubled detective, the damsel in distress who appeals to him, a senior detective with failing memory.
Gruesome, though not necessarily gory.  The suggestiveness is effective.
Extremely well done, though it feels like it has pieced together from several other films.
The intricacy of this reminds me of El Cuerpo, but that came later, in 2012, and from Spain.
While I enjoyed throughout, afterward I felt I had watched an extended episode of a high budget cop show.


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Vultural

Some People - 1962 - 6/10

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Bored in Bristol.  England, just on the cusp a cultural explosion.
Three lads mill about, toil odd jobs, race motorbikes, pick up birds, yell in the dark.
Late adolescents, venting steam, childhood behind them, the adult world not exactly enticing.
They swagger in leather jackets (pretty much what the Beatles donned in Hamburg at this time).
Adults suffice to discipline or channel their energy.
While not an earthshaker by any means, this is a keen observation of a life, a look, a time, a year before it was utterly swept away.


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Vultural

The Web Of Death - 1976 - 6/10
AKA - Wu du tian luo // 五毒天羅

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The deadly venom clan, feared throughout the martial arts world, eyes an upcoming competition.
If only they could deploy their dread Five Venom Spider weapon, then winning would be assured!
Yet the idol has been hidden for 100 years, to protect humanity.
Of course, the wicked covet it and concoct a plan.
Hectic Shaw Brothers flick abounds with over the top joys!
Foiled romance, lots of fighting, wonderful interior sets.

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There must be five or six plotlines, or more, and a gamut of quarreling families.
I was especially taken of the layout of the Venom lair, stepping stones over a sea of acid.


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Vultural

Valerie - 2006 - 6/10

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Valerie laughs with the other girls at the end of the fashion shoot.
She declines the after-party invite, however, because she wants to look fresh for a casting tomorrow.
Next day, she receives the silent smile.  “Thank you.  We’ll be in touch.”
No they won’t.  Valerie, in her early twenties, is over the hill.  Past it.  Old.
Despite the career, her youth, an agent, potential offers, she is sliding into homelessness.
On one hand, the film is about a character you never considered becoming destitute.
On the other hand, Valerie is aware of her situation, and you watch her scramble and claw to escape.


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Vultural

Planet Of The Humans - 2019 - 5/10

Much hyped documentary misses the plot and settles for meaningless consolation shot.
Early on, the narrator shows how far the human population has spiked in the last century.
Then, and for the bulk of the doc, he launches an exposé of renewal energy.
The fraud and deception of “green.”
From environmental groups and leaders who have prostituted themselves to corporations, to the clueless masses who say,  “Coal, bad.  Biomass, good.”
Biomass means forest removal, clear cutting, habitat annihilation.

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Late in the show, a few souls reference over-population again.
Then back to chainsaws.  A diversion that misses the point.
The current Earth population is close to 8 billion.
Including you and I.  So, would you give up air-conditioning in summer?  Heat in winter?
Clean water?  Healthy food?  A nice place to live?
These take a toll.  Is everyone entitled to modern comforts?
Guess what, sucker.
Welcome to Planet Of The Hypocrites.

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Vultural

Bob le Flambeur - 1956 - 6/10
AKA - Bob The Gambler

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Bob made a big score 20 years ago, but did time for it.
Now, he is something between an old gangster and retired.
He advises old friends, listens to eager younglings, is chums with a detective, tries to protect women.
Akin to an aging knight.  Crooked, yet with a sense of honor.
Gambling is his weakness.  He seems to pick horses.  With cards, Lady Luck is cruel.
A breezy, perhaps empty, life.
Forty minutes into the film, the caper germinates and begins to unfold.
The story, the music, the details, everything ratchets up.
Excellent French Noir, hang with it.


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Vultural

¿Quién Puede Matar a Un Niño? - 1976 - 7/10
AKA - Who Can Kill A Child?

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Tom and Evelyn notice a bustle of activity at the Spanish beach.
The tide has washed in another body.
Well, that doesn’t concern the couple.  They’re on holiday!
They rent a small boat and arrive at the distant island of Almanzora.
Once there, they find the isle eerily deserted.
They are turistas, however, and understand they are not in England.
Eventually, they grasp that the island is not so deserted, after all.
Brilliant Spanish horror film is a building nail biter.
The concept of outsiders negotiating the foreignness of elsewhere is a terrific touch.


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Vultural

Ordinary Love - 2019 - 7/10

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Taking a shower, Joan notices a lump near her breast.
She calls husband Tom, he confirms.
From there on, they enter the machinery of big medical.
Surgery, chemo, hurried explanations.
Other patients drift by in the wards.  For Joan, for viewers, ships that pass, fates unknown.
Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson show quiet chemistry as bantering couple, still nursing a previous calamity.
Film excels by avoiding heroic medicine, epic personalities.
Science, fate, faith, and the shared burden.


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Vultural

Deep End - 1970 - 6/10

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Recent high school graduate Michael gets first job at local bathhouse / pool.
The place is a sexual minefield and he is immediately out of his depth.
Canoodling is rampant, and some of the older females have expectations.
A sequence with Diana Dors seems forever etched in my mind.
Shy or inexperience notwithstanding, Michael is soon riveted on the older Susan (Jane Asher).
Interest swells into stalking, then obsession.
Despite bright colors and fashion, the film captures the tired end of the 60’s.


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Vultural

Scotland Yard Investigator - 1945 - 6/10

During WWII, the British Museum holds the Mona Lisa for the Louvre.
A greedy collector has his eye on it, however.
Early on, the museum director and collector square off.
Well played by crusty C. Aubrey Smith and Erich von Stroheim.

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Soon, to their mutual consternation, they discover a third rival has secretly outflanked them.
OK Republic programmer benefits from mostly British cast and attention to details (license plates for example).
A chance to watch character actors carry a film.


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Vultural

Amer - 2009 - 5/10  

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Baffling, experimental arthouse mystery / coming-of-age / murder / whatever.
Young girl wanders the house of her deceased grandfather, while her mother carries on with a male (husband, brother, gardener), and while a mysterious female is locked in an adjoining room.
Minimal dialogue as we explore through the child’s eyes.  Perhaps.

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In the middle section, she is preteen jailbait for numerous leather clad men.
Finally, she is pursued by an assailant wearing black gloves and mask, carrying a knife.
That has given this a Giallo tag, but this is not remotely part of that genre.
Arresting visuals notwithstanding, this is self-absorbed, almost pretentious.
I watched, indifferent, bored, mildly curious about what the director would hurl on the screen next.
If you have something better lined up, head there first.


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Vultural

Rendez-Vous - 1985 - 6/10

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Nina relocates from the country to Paris to further her acting dream.
Early on, she has a bit part in a comedy.  By film’s end, the make or break role is minutes away.
In between, however, there are relationships with men.
The current boyfriend who accuses Nina of sleeping with all of Paris.
Then two roommates.  The smitten one, who lands in “friend zone.”  The other, a forceful stalker.
Early Juliette Binoche role.  Despite sporadic nudity, she radiates little sensual steam.
Meaning, there’s no explanation why men are irresistibly drawn to her.


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Vultural

The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors - 2013 - 6/10

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Three part documentary gives a light survey of 600 years of rule, and 100 years afterward.
Ambitions, strategies, implementation of power are detailed, as well as dealing with problems.
Some problems, caused by the Turks, caused by the West, would fester for centuries, exploding in our era.
The major historical players are checked, but really, 20 minutes is not enough for Atatürk, and certainly not for Suleiman The Magnificent.
Rageh Omaar is a quiet, self-effacing presenter (unlike other hosts who feel their face is the essential ingredient and want it onscreen the whole time).
At three hours, this makes a lightly informative series.


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Vultural

The Forbidden Door - 2009 - 6/10
AKA - Pintu Terlarang

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Sculptor Gambir had an exhibition where all his works sold out.
He is a red hot property, married to a beautiful wife, envied by many, including close friends.
Is life great, or what?
Gambir would like to expand beyond his black cast sculptures (of heavily pregnant females), but is threatened with exposure if he does so.
His mother, wanting grandchildren, complains about his erectile dysfunction to everyone.
Graffiti messages distract him.  Visions of a boy, brutally beaten.  A secret establishment.  The clinic.
Random voices.  Pig masks..  Stray, meaningless, characters.  A narrative that grows incoherent.
Surreal mystery / thriller from Indonesian also doses arthouse, horror and gore.
While elements seem lifted from other films, writer-director Joko Anwar manages to stitch the threads by the end.
Hang with those credits, too!


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Vultural

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon - 2019 - 6/10

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A young alien crash lands in the woods adjoining the pasture.
Exploring, the friendly, and hungry, visitor makes friends with Shaun.
Did someone say,  “That sounds like E.T.?”
For almost half the film, the story mirrors the original quite a lot.
There are also nods to Close Encounters, 2001, and several more.
Not saying this is dumbed down, but it does seem aimed at children more than earlier works.


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Vultural

Pit And The Pendulum - 1991 - 5/10

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Update of Mr. Poe’s story starts promising, soon disappoints.
Lance Henriksen plays the head inquisitor, Torquemada.
Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator) is writer / director.
And it’s a Full Moon film.  Don’t laugh, Full Moon often shot features overseas, in this case, Italy.
Locations, costumes, and atmosphere are very good.
Henriksen is fine, though a bit over-the-top at times, everyone else varies.
Crowd scenes are poor, and like similar Horror yarns, there is too much comic relief.
Not smart one-liners, either.  Low IQ antics.
In other cases, the director might have improved the script, but since Gordon wrote the script, no chance.
This could be reedited into a better film.


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Vultural

One Man, Two Guvnors - 2012 - 7/10

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Theatre junkies, hark!
During the Covid lockdown, the National Theatre began limited airing of stage classics.
James Corden as Henshall lands a gig as batman for gangster, Roscoe Crabbe.
Then another job working for Stanley Stubbers, the man who killed Roscoe.
Killed?  What?  Confused?  Not as much as Henshall, who admits he does get easily confused.
Rapid fire comedy mixes situations, innuendo, farce, and musical interludes!
Note: This is live theatre, so expect audience reactions.
As of 2020 05, YouTube still offers one full show each week.


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Vultural

Black Magic - 1975 - 6/10
AKA - Gong Tau  //  降頭

Consider Luo Yin.  Rich widow, very sexy, owns a construction firm, sports car, designer fashions.
She burns for Xu Nuo, her engineer, but no … he loves drab, poor but honest, goody Chu-ying.
If only Luo Yin can get her claws into him, enfold him in the sticky petals, then he won’t look at another.

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What to do?  How about contacting a rogue shaman, priest, magician.
Love spells for a price, death spells for a bigger price.
Trashy Shaw Brothers film sports nudity and bed bouncing, maggots and murder.
Rather languid first half picks up tempo midway and never looks back.
Over the top finale boasts wild effects.  The fact they are so dated actually helps.
I’m not even going into the sleazy juiciness of the deceitful shaman.


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