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Duelle (1976) (Dir. Jacques Rivette)



Rivette's Duelle (the femimine form of "duel") marries fantastic elements with a very naturalist preference which is refreshing in an age when this type of story requires a special effects budget of millions. Unfortunately, for a picture about gods and tantamount apocalypse, there is very little to chew on here. After recently praising Refn's Drive (2011) for the import its silences carry, this picture has reassured me to never overlook silence again. While a pause can be a powerful tool in the right hands, it can also be a red flag for empty gesture.

Initially, I appreciated just how subdued a conflict of this magnitude could be portrayed. My experience with French film had led me to believe every story had to have serious themes and philosophic principles. From the Greek mythology I've read, it's all very simply put with much broader implications. That's the angle I believed this film to be taking and were it half an hour shorter, it might have gotten by in that way. Unfortunately, for all of Rivette's stunning visuals, excellent casting, and interesting choices in execution, this script is an absolute dud.

For starters, the one character in this film with any definition is tossed aside like an extra. The characters that survive her have motivations that aren't given any weight. Gods that wants to be human? An assassin under their spell turned against his own sister? Murder? Seduction? Immortality? There are a million ways to make these complex and thematic issues. There are countless monologues to be written. Instead, the most interesting conversation is about why a dancer uses a pseudonym and how much she hates her job.

The most climactic sequences of the film are frustratingly barren of dialogue when you expect some resolution in thought as much as in action. The scattered attempts at saying anything of note should confirm that this was a choice made out of necessity. Pretentious gets thrown around a lot, but the dream is the night's aquarium fits the bill if any phrase ever has.

For anyone who sees a lack of narrative as a lack of substance, let this be a counter example. I kind of wish I would have watched it with the subtitles off. For all of the tracking shots and long takes, all of the cinematic locations, all of the fashion direction, the beauty here is only skin deep. Is this how people who don't enjoy Malick feel?

http://boxd.it/aSVUD
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Brooklyn (2015)

An incredible performance by Saoirse Ronan makes this film. There is nice support from all involved but Ronan is totally deserving of being nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for this movie. She may not have won, but she's only 22-years-old and has already been nominated twice for an Academy Award. Her day will come, I'm sure.

Ronan plays Eilis, a young lady from a small Irish town who is sponsored by a priest friend who lives in Brooklyn, New York to come there. She finds work and a boarding house to stay in, but is wracked with homesickness at first. She slowly finds her way with a job, night college, and love with a young Italian man all of which makes her feel like Brooklyn is home. There are scores of Irish immigrants in Brooklyn that also make her feel a touch of the old country. But a tragedy in Ireland forces her to sail back home and once there, she is tempted by many factors to stay. Will she or won't she? Check it and see. I love Ronan and try to see all her movies but am way behind. I'm truly glad I saw this one, her most adult acting job to date.





Coraline (2009)

Totally winning animated movie about a neglected young girl who wanders around the apartment-house she and her parents have moved into, and finds interesting characters in and out of the house. But most importantly, she finds a small doorway in the house that has something like a wormhole or tunnel that leads her to a better version of her life that she instantly takes to. But all is not as it seems and there are dark forces waiting to snare her. Dakota Fanning gives a great voice-over as Coraline and Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman are fine voicing her parents on both sides of the house's universe. The Absolutely Fabulous duo of Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French are funny as the oddball landladies she encounters. The animation is fine and the mood is dark but cool. This plays very much like a Tim Burton animated movie...in fact it was directed by Henry Selick who directed Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) He's got another winner here. Loved it!



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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Mother's Day

(Garry Marshall)





I've been on vacation the last week, in Prince Edward Island. A small island off the east coast of Canada. So small that they have one theatre that was about an hour and a half away from where I was staying. When the idea came up to see a movie, I was thinking maybe Suicide Squad. Instead, we found out the hotel attached to our cabins has a small theatre, sits about 40 and plays one movie every Friday. Let's check it out my mother-in-law said. We all agreed and went to pay $8 to see a movie, which is almost $4 cheaper than a regular movie back home. We get there and see that the film is Mother's Day. The mother-in-law looked happy to see this, I can only imagine what my face looked like opposite hers.

Despite my zero interest in this film, I did give it a chance, as I do 98% of the films I watch. Much like the other flicks in this "series", Mother's Day boasts a big cast, small stories and lazy direction. The segments of the film include a widowed father trying to cope with the loss of his two daughter's mother, a woman estranged from her mother and father because they don't approve of the man she loves, a woman who's afraid of marriage because her mother gave her up for adoption and Jennifer Aniston having to cope with her ex-husband who marries a twenty-something bombshell whom her two kids love to hang out with. Oh, I almost forgot, Julia Roberts stars in it as well with a bad wig. Most of these stories intersect with one another.

Had the film focused on the Jennifer Aniston story line with Jason Sudeikis' widowed subplot, it could have been an interesting film. Instead it cuts itself short by not spending enough time to flesh out any character from any story or their problems. Kate Hudson has racist parents who throw out terms like towel-head like it's nothing. These people seem like the kind of people that would vote Trump, PRO-AMERICA, "Get out of my country" type. But their final acceptance of their son in law and their own daughter is so incredibly weak and vomit inducing that I question why this part was even included. They have find out they have a grandchild and immediately forget their racist history?

The film tries for laughs, misses a lot of them. It appeals to the lowest common denominator. Hoping not to insult anyone and be all-around friendly....it insults everyone.
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Suspect's Reviews



Welcome to the human race...
Beverly Hills Cop III -


Man, John Landis has a real problem with his hit-to-miss ratio.
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Locke (Steven Knight, 2013)


Very nice little film with an excellent lead performance that interestingly captures interesting themes of masculinity, love, life.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Crimson Peak

(Guillermo del Toro)





Crimson Peak offers the viewer gorgeous visuals, a creepy atmosphere and good performances from most of the cast, yet it fails to deliver any scares, thrills or genuine excitement. Guillermo del Toro might have to try being a cinematographer for a few films instead because Crimson Peak falters the same way his other films do. I should like Crimson Peak a lot more than I do, this is my relationship with all his films.

The film suffers from numerous things, but one that pops out to be is the bait and switch it gives the viewer. When one thinks of Crimson Peak, a gothic ghost story comes to mind. This simply is not the case here. Yes, ghosts are present in the film, yes they do "some" haunting, but that aspect of the film is not del Toro's focus. Instead he would rather have the story be about Chastain and Hiddleston, who plays brother and sister and live in Crimson Peak and their ulterior motives to why he should marry Wasikowska. Interesting at first, but the completely fails to live up to the expectations. Especially when characters do things out of character for thinly realized reasons. The bait and switch, tells viewers what to expect and deliver something else. We've seen this before...I'm looking at you Adjustment Bureau.

Wasikowska's the lead and I'm not sure if I just don't like her as an actress or if all her performances are the same. Ever since I saw her wooden performance in Alice, she has yet to impress or even really change up a character. Chastain and Hiddleston offer something interesting at least, then again they more experienced than Wasikowska. They both fir perfectly in this world.

But damn, does this film look great. The cinematography, the art direction, costume design, set design. These are always the highlights in del Toro films and Crimson Peak might be his best yet. The house bleeds red clay for crying out loud, a small detail that you see in the corners of the frame. Something only del Toro would do, which beautifully adds to the world he creates here. Crimson Peak, great title and great location. Too bad it takes half the film's running time to get there.

Del Toro's homage to the gothic hammer classics is something to admire I guess. I just wish he injected the story with more scares, more excitement and something a little more interesting. Some surprise shock and violence isn't enough here. Crimson Peak has a lot to offer and falls short on many of them.



"The Internal Bleeding Dance." - Violet


Rear Window
(1954)


Just as I remembered it from decades ago on TV, except nicely remastered and without commercials. I needed two nights to finish it. With all the scenes of Jefferies dozing off, I began dozing off. Not a reflection on the film, I was just tired. It's been so long since I watched it that one time on TV, that it didn't really feel like I was watching it again. I kept trying to remember how he ends up with 2 casts. Very enjoyable experience.




In the Realm of Senses

Arthouse porn. Kind of. Certainly explicit enough, but if you just want to jerk off, just watch porn. Although the libido's in this flick are just as preposterous as a porno flicks. The story itself however is fine, and based on actual events. Even the very last thing the main female protagonist does with her now dead lover.






Vulgar, vile, poor taste, and offensive. I LOVED IT! It is certainly worth the price of admission and a laugh riot. The movie also has some very obvious commentary to the Middle East situation and religion. But it also has talking sausages, buns, bath salts, and is very self aware. If you love offensive humor you will enjoy it.




Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
In the Realm of Senses is a lovely film to watch with a girl on a first date & eat some fungus.
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Hitler's Children (1943)



"This lurid exposé of the Hitler Youth follows the woes of an American girl declared legally German by the Nazi government."

I kept wanting to call this "Young Nazis in Love" as a young Nazi officer is in love with the German-born American girl who is forcibly entered into a Nazi youth program. Some of the acting is very stiff in the beginning of this film.

TCM called this an "exploitation" film. And it is anti-Nazi propaganda, but what is wrong with anything anti-Nazi? Nothing.
Kind of interesting that such a detailed look into the Hitler Youth programs would be made into a film right in the middle of the war (but then the author of the book on which the film was based fled Nazi Germany and brought with him info on the Reich's education system - so "straight from the horse's mouth" as it were).
I was drawn in by the second half and despite the film's overall flatness, there are a couple small outstanding performances.

Most interesting tidbit: Hans Conried (known for his comical roles in movies & TV) plays a dead serious Nazi doctor who orders sterilizations! And he is the voice of Hitler heard in English in the movie!

For those interested in WWII history and Nazi stuff, I give this a 4 of 5.
As general film entertainment for anyone not interested in Nazi stuff, I give it a 3 of 5.



Hitler's Children (1943)...that goes onto my watch list!
Excellent. But give it a chance because it seems kind of sappy (corny? cheesy? bad acting?) at first, but gets better as it progresses. It gradually leaves the sappiness behind and doesn't end up pulling any punches. I watched it in two parts - I enjoyed the second half!





Five strangers - newlywed serial killers, a suicidal cop, and two runaways - become suspect and victim when a masked murderer makes its presence known in an isolated mountain town

4/5





Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (2004)