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Tread (Paul Solet, 2020)
+ 6.5/10

Steamroller modified as an armored tank is employed by Marvin Heemeyer over sleights he felt from the people there to try to destroy Granby, Colorado in 2004.

'Preciate the heads-up. It's a fascinating true story, and I have to say that I related to Marvin Heemeyer taking his wrath out on the town whose good ole boy city council done him wrong..





The Merchant of Four Seasons, 1972

Returning home from a time in the military, Hans (Hans Hirschmuller) finds his relationship with his wife, Irmgard (Irm Hermann) and family altered. Hans tries to make a living as a fruit vendor, but an untimely medical emergency leaves him dependent on others.

I don't know if many people have seen the film Deathdream, about a soldier who returns from Vietnam but things are very, very wrong. In fact, it becomes clear really quickly (so quickly I don't consider it a spoiler, but, um, SPOILER WARNING, I guess) that he is dead. There's a line in another film (I am blanking on the name, but something thriller-ish?) where one character tells another, "You're dead. You just don't know it yet."

These two films/lines kept rattling around in my head while watching Merchant of Four Seasons. Hans has, in many ways, lost his life. And yet he is still in it. But as we watch, all of the trappings of his presence and reality begin to fall away. His family thinks poorly of him. His wife is enamored with other men. His business is being run by someone else. And all of the coping strategies he uses---to use the term very loosely--only serve to further alienate himself from his own life.

I did appreciate some of the humor in the film, and specifically just how dramatic many of the characters were. Irmgard is perpetually upset, and often tearful. In one scene, Hans' family protectively encircles her like a herd of startled cattle. And Hans himself also skews toward the dramatic in his own way, albeit more explosive.

Overall I enjoyed the film, which felt like some bizarre mix of comedy, drama, and a little bit of horror. Many of Fassbinder's frequent collaborators make appearances, including El Hedi ben Salem, who shows up for a memory sequence containing a fetishized sequence of whipping (because of course he does).

I actually felt that the film's strongest point was that final sequence (despite me poking a bit of fun at it), because we really get a window into Hans' mental state.





By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60775778

Ashes in the Snow - (2018) - Lithuania

With the plethora of films we have detailing what was life (and death) was like in Nazi concentration camps it feels like a breath of fresh air to take a look at what life (and death) was like in a Soviet Russian gulag. In 1940 the U.S.S.R. occupied the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - sparking off half a century of oppression and struggle. As such, this film focuses on the arrest of entire Vilkas family in 1941, and their cruel treatment due to father Kostas' attempt to help some citizens flee.

Ashes in the Snow's most interesting focus is on the fate of Nikola Kretzsky, an NKVD guard. When the soldiers in his regiment learn that their assignment is a Siberian gulag - they react as if they themselves have have been sentenced to imprisonment. Nikola is a good man who befriends mother Elena, but, as camp commander Komarov reminds her, he can be the "angel of death" at the camp commander's command. The film is an adaptation of Ruta Sepetys' novel Between Shades of Grey.

WARNING: spoilers below
The only problem I have with the film is it's sudden, and almost baffling, happy ending. After suffering the physical and mental privations of their gulag, the Vilkas family is sent to an even harsher gulag in the Arctic - with Kretzsky, whose promotion to commander is in effect a punishment for beating up a fellow guard (Kretzsky's mother is Ukrainian, which makes him suspect to Komarov.) After building their own shelter from sticks and mud, Elena dies from malnutrition and disease. This prompts Kretzsky to commit suicide, but not before pardoning the two Vilkas children, Lina and Jonas. We last see them on an idyllic beach, where Lina has resumed her relationship with a young man who has somehow extricated himself from the former gulag. I admit that the film made me want them to triumph, but I couldn't help but see this as a slight betrayal of those who never managed to find their way home, and those who, when they did, were a shadow of their former selves. There was no beach frolicking with young lovers for them.


7/10




https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8251489

Boxcar Bertha - (1972)

Roger Corman exploitation film, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Barbara Hershey, David Carradine and John Carradine. That's enough to spark anyone's curiosity. Cheap - but not without it's moments, especially final scene.

6.5/10




Stand By Me (1986, Rob Reiner)

A simple and very heartfelt coming-of-age adventure story with excellent ensemble acting by the boys, and that warm, nostalgic vibe that transports us back to adolescence, with all the accompanying pains (and joys) of growing up, the friends we had but moved on from - the formative years of our lives that shaped us into who we are.
Good film, definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations I've seen.



Things heard and seen (2021)

Atmospheric mystery about a family moving from the city to a rural community so that the father (James Norton) can take up a teaching post there.

Filled with loads of mumbo-jumbo but goes along at a decent pace...strange ending. Wasn't great and could have done with a few boneshaker scenes not just the standard "doors and drawers shutting and electrical goods going blink" ones.




Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

S.M.A.R.T. Chase (Charles Martin, 2017)
5/10
Jungle Man AKA Drums of Africa (Harry Fraser, 1941)
+ 4.5/10
Cat Murkil and the Silks AKA Cruisin' High (John Bushelman, 1976)
5/10
The Coward (Satyajit Ray, 1965)
6/10

Unhappily married Madhabi Mukherjee is surprised to meet old flame Soumitra Chatterjee when he visits her husband, but will it change anything?
Dead Again in Tombstone (Roel Reinť, 2017)
+ 5/10
Sixpack Annie (Graydon F. David [Fred G. Thorne], 1975)
4/10
The 9th Guest (R. William Neill, 1934)
5/10
Charade (Roy Kellino, 1954)
6.5/10

Creative trio of stories (all shot in color) with a strong overriding concept where Mr. & Mrs. James Mason play themselves as well as the leads in all three stories.
Big Town Scandal (William Thomas, 1948)
5/10
Loaded Pistols (John English, 1948)
6/10
Blonde Comet (William Beaudine, 1941)
+ 5/10
White Fire AKA 3 Steps to the Gallows (John Gilling, 1953)
5.5/10

Underseen noir where American naval officer Scott Brady arrives in London to find his younger brother three days from execution. He works with smuggler Mary Castle to try to prove he was framed. Pretty good but let down by some of the worst fight scenes in film history.
The Manster AKA The Split (George Breakston & Kenneth G. Crane, 1959)
5/10
Girl on the Run (Arthur J. Beckhard & Joseph Lee, 1953)
5.5/10
Drills (Sarah Friedland, 2020)
5/10
This Time for Keeps (Richard Thorpe, 1947)
6/10

Rarely shown Esther Williams musical romance certainly should be watched as much as her others.
House on the Edge of the Park (Ruggero Deodato, 1980)
5/10
Mala Mala (Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles, 2014)
6/10
Murder by the Clock (Edward Sloman, 1931)
5/10
Tricheurs (Barbet Schroeder, 1984)
6/10

Offbeat gambling film with cryptic leads (Jacques Dutronc & Bulle Ogier) and beautiful locations.
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I Lost My Body



This is a morbid but also kind of lovely French animated film about a, um, disembodied hand and its search for attachment. It's also about destiny, loss, and grief, in the story of a young man searching for himself in the aftermath of tragedy. The subject matter is rather dark at times by necessity but it doesn't wallow in misery. The animation is rich and detailed--the focus on small, seemingly mundane details gives beauty to the ordinary. 8/10





Julia Roberts was way way too good for this movie. The lead male actor was so stilted & one-dimensional. Not a bad storyline & I did finish it. But the movie didnít deserve her.
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Sixpack Annie (Graydon F. David [Fred G. Thorne], 1975)
4/10

Huh, I really thought I was the only person alive who'd seen Sixpack Annie.





Julia Roberts was way way too good for this movie. The lead male actor was so stilted & one-dimensional. Not a bad storyline & I did finish it. But the movie didnít deserve her.
Dope ending though.



Predictable. He had to die.
Iím talking more the specific execution of the ending with the 911 phone call. I donít expect revelatory plot developments from most films, especially clearly boilerplate thrillers from the 90s. I do appreciate inventive execution of those plot developments and this one delivered.



I Lost My Body



This is a morbid but also kind of lovely French animated film about a, um, disembodied hand and its search for attachment. It's also about destiny, loss, and grief, in the story of a young man searching for himself in the aftermath of tragedy. The subject matter is rather dark at times by necessity but it doesn't wallow in misery. The animation is rich and detailed--the focus on small, seemingly mundane details gives beauty to the ordinary. 8/10
My mom and I watched this last Christmas and both had a very positive (and very emotional) response to it.