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The Tenth Victim (1965)



Absolutely nuts, and I sort of loved it for that. It doesn't take itself at all seriously. Very sixties.

Yeah, this was quite a surprise for me. Liked it a lot.
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SUMMER CAMP
(2015, Marini)
A horror film • A film with the word "Summer" in its title



"You'll see when the kids arrive. At first they're like strangers, but after a few trust exercises, they're friends for life."

Summer Camp follows three American counselors (Diego Boneta, Jocelin Donahue, and Maiara Walsh) sent to work on a summer camp in Spain. The film opens with them practicing one of those trust exercises, with one of the girls assuring her partner that them girls would "do it better". But a mysterious rage-inducing virus that starts spreading around will certainly put that trust to the test.

This is yet another film I walk into pretty much blind and still walk out pleasantly surprised. Despite treading familiar ground, it manages to pack a few surprises and subvert some of the typical tropes of the genre. Not only that, but it happens to be a lot of fun. The film is also cleverly staged in terms of how it sets up certain things that pay off later in surprising yet organic ways.

Grade:



Full review on my Movie Loot




Cornered (1945)

I'm a big noir fan, so was looking forward to watching several while my wife was gone for the weekend. The anticipation built while watching Eddie Muller's Noir Alley intro (from TCM) on YouTube before starting Cornered.



The second pairing of Dick Powell and Edward Dmytryk, following the great Murder, My Sweet from the previous year should have been a humdinger. And truly it was a good noir style. However for some reason Powell wouldn't get off the monomaniacal angry tough guy approach to his dialogue delivery, which after awhile --especially when the situation didn't warrant it-- became a little like fingernails scraping on a blackboard (for the younger crowd, blackboards used to be in every classroom, on which pieces of white chalk were used for illustrations of lessons..).

Still, it was an interesting story, and it's always nice to see Walter Slezak ply his sleazy characters. It was also easy to watch the French actress Micheline Cheirel light up the screen with her performance.

Good noir, but a missed opportunity. The film could have been "A" material, but ended up with "B" patina.

Doc's rating: 5/10



I've been meaning to watch this for years. I'm a big fan of Melville's story. I didn't want to read it in high school, 33 years ago, because the title didn't sound like much and I thought the period writing would be boring, but I was totally captivated by the story. One thing I worried would be lost in the film is that not only was Billy supposed to be absurdly handsome but also big and strong like "a fresh horse" and someone that, despite his good nature, people wouldn't cross because he would simply be able to physically overpower anyone on the ship. This feature actually mattered to the story and the themes and I worried that Stamp, as much as I have always appreciated him as an actor, would lack that quality. Of course, that's because he seems short in Superman II, the film I first saw him in and arguably his most famous role. But I forgot that Christopher Reeve was 6'4", not to mention the fact that the other two Kryptonians were cast, in part, due to their height. Non and Ursa were actually 6'6" and 5'10", respectively, and they stood next to him for most of the film. If you assumed that just Ursa was an average sized woman or that Reeve was even just 6'1", you would expect that Stamp was no taller than about 5'9". Which would hardly fit Billy's character.
Yes, it is that simple and silly a reason that I never saw this film. But now, liberated by the research I've done after reading your review, I am free to finally watch it.
I think you should enjoy it. Admittedly I've not read the book but did find the story refreshing and interesting.





Hunter Hunter, 2020

Deep in the woods, Anne (Camille Sullivan) lived with her husband Joseph (Devon Sawa) and teenage daughter, Renee (Summer Howell). The family lives off the grid, sustaining themselves through hunting local animals. But following a disturbing discovery in the woods, Joseph goes AWOL, and Anne and Renee are left wondering what has become of him. A less than helpful response from the local police (Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane) and the appearance of a mysterious stranger (Nick Stahl) make things more complicated.

A lot of horror films suffer from setting up an intriguing concept and then slowly declining, often not knowing how to wrap things up. This film is interesting in that it is the middle third that lags the most, while the ending is actually quite strong. The first act does a good job of establishing the family's isolated life in the woods. But once Joseph disappears, the film lingers in a weird space. Some of the character actions just didn't ring true to me--the film struggles as it tries to put all of the pieces in place for its final act. Once that final act arrives, however, it is suitably shocking and gory.

Aside from its finale, the film's other main strength is the ambiguity it threads throughout. This is one of those films that keeps you wondering whether what is happening is supernatural or real (or some mix of the two), and I enjoyed that. Being isolated in the woods can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be very dangerous. The film really shows this double-edged relationship, and particularly the way that a stressful situation can lead to an antagonistic relationship with your environment.

The film does drag at times--especially in the middle third--and I was frustrated at points by character decisions that seemed to exist only so that certain characters would be in certain places at certain times in order for the finale to work. At the same time, the finale is powerful enough that I walked away with an overall positive impression. Especially recommended for horror fans. Not great, but worth a look in my opinion.






Dina, 2017

This documentary follows a middle aged woman named Dina Buno as she pursues love and marriage with a man named Scott. Both Dina and Scott seem to be somewhere on the Autism spectrum, and in addition to trying to discover if they are truly compatible, echoes of Dina's former marriage hang over the relationship.

I always get a little emotional seeing adults with disabilities navigate the "real world". When I look at my students with disabilities, I always worry that the world will not treat them kindly or understand their brilliance. Watching someone like Dina go about her life was both relieving and anxiety producing. On one hand, it was really neat to see her assert her desires in terms of love, sex, affection, and relationship boundaries. On the other hand, you see those moments where she struggles to connect and communicate, and the frustration she experiences.

Showing the life of someone who is not neurotypical can really land in a negative place, where it feels like the film is inviting you to laugh at the person on screen. For the most part that is not how I felt. There were parts where I did laugh, but that comes more out of the contrast between Dina's understanding of appropriate behavior and what most people would consider appropriate. In the scene pictured at the top of this review, Dina matter-of-factly reads to her fiance Scott about sexual strategies for stronger ejaculation----and then a reverse camera shot shows us that a mother and two children are sitting on the bench just ahead of them.

The film offers a really balanced look at Dina and Scott's relationship. Scott is uninterested in sex (and possibly asexual?), and Dina very much wants a physical relationship. Dina frets about making Scott feel bad for the way he is, and Scott wants to make Dina happy, but clearly wanting physical touch doesn't come naturally to him. It is a sweet but also painful look at a couple that loves each other, and yet are grappling with what would be an insurmountable obstacle for some people.

I did have one issue with the film, and that has to do with information that is revealed at almost the very end of the film regarding a trauma in Dina's past. On one hand, this reveal is effective in the sense that it was like a gut-punch. I can honestly say it is one of the worst things I have ever heard in a documentary, and part of that is because of how unexpected it was. But on the other hand, this information about Dina is really critical to understanding her behavior as not just someone who isn't neurotypical, but also as someone who is suffering from a really serious trauma. It totally reframes so many of her actions, and I found myself a bit annoyed that you would almost have to rewatch the whole movie to really grasp what is happening in different moments.

Overall this was an interesting and compassionate look at someone whose though process and behavior might not fit the norm, but who just wants the same things that so many people do.




The Tenth Victim (1965)



Absolutely nuts, and I sort of loved it for that. It doesn't take itself at all seriously. Very sixties.

Read about this film only a couple of weeks ago and have really wanted to see it since. Now even more so.

Kill List (2011)

This is quite an entertaining film about 2 ex mercenaries that get into harsh times and take on the contract of all contracts. Good juxtaposition of light and dark in bits but always quite enjoyable as the story is good and linear. In my view it builds to a good, but rather fatuous conclusion. Ben Wheatley is kind of an enigma to me.

This is one of my favourite films. A bit of a guilty pleasure though. I know it's not a great film, but to me it was really unrelenting, dark and at times frightening.





The Wolfpack, 2015

A man and a woman meet while traveling and discover they have similar aspirations. They want to raise their children free of society's influence on some ideal Swedish farm. The only problem is that a brief stopover in New York becomes permanent. The solution? All seven children (six brothers and a developmentally-disabled sister) are raised in an apartment and never allowed to leave--only their father has the keys to the front door. Isolated in all respects, the brothers immerse themselves in the world of film, meticulously typing up the scripts and building their own props and recreating the entirety of films like Reservoir Dogs and Batman Begins. This documentary follows the family after some of the brothers begin to venture outside of the apartment.

There is a lot happening on the surface that makes this seem like it is meant to be a fun little watch. The brothers' homemade cinematic recreations bring them a lot of joy, and we watch footage of creative play and dance parties. With their long hair and soft-spoken mannerisms, this seems like, you know, the nice kind of cult.

But ultimately this film is a tragedy, and in many ways it is hard to watch. Early on we are given the least surprising piece of information: their father (you know, the one who literally kept them locked up for years at a time) was abusive to their mother and to them at times. When the oldest brother, Mukunda, ventures outside the apartment the first time, he wore a homemade Michael Myers mask . . . and was subsequently arrested and taken to a mental hospital.

It could be easy to watch this film and just enjoy the quirks of the boys, such as the way that one of them slips into a British accent out in public, or the way that the boys seem to adopt certain film personas in order to navigate the outside world. But to the credit of the filmmakers, the movie never goes too long before bringing you back down to earth. These boys do not really know how to socialize (much less date!), and they will clearly have to grapple for a long time with the unhealthy relationship that has been modeled for them their whole lives.

One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is that, while the boys are meant to be the stars of the film, there is this subplot about a parallel liberation of the boys' mother. In a short, telling interview, the mother notes that while the boys had a lot of rules, she had even more. Under the eye of the director, the boys' mother, Susanne, calls her mother for the first time in decades. It is implied that the mother has also not left the apartment in a very long time. It is frustrating to see that the abusive relationship between the parents will continue uninterrupted.

Despite how sad this movie made me, I have to say that the creativity the boys show is astounding. Their homemade props and costumes are amazing. Toward the end of the film, we see the way that the boys could possibly leverage their years of creativity to get real-world jobs. On the other hand, all of their creativity was born out of confinement, and so even the most joyful recreation of a scene from Pulp Fiction can't disguise that their recreation comes from a very isolated place.

One small issue I had with the film was the decision to keep the narrative entirely "inside" the apartment/family. We get no interviews with Susanne's family. There is a story the boys tell about a police raid on their apartment--and we get no further details on that. What do their neighbors think? On one hand I respect the idea of limiting the point of view to the family, but this decision leaves certain gaps that I felt were important to understanding the story.

A solid little documentary that is inspiring and tragic all at once.





By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53877419

The Beguiled - (2017)

I've just watched the trailer for the original adaptation of The Beguiled, released 50 years ago, in 1971, directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood with Geraldine Page. Last night I watched the 2017 version, directed by Sofia Coppola, and it was my introduction to this Civil War period drama. I really enjoyed it, but can understand why people who love the original wouldn't as much - even if it was only because they were already familiar with the story. There is so much recycling done in this modern age of movies that I assume it happens quite a bit.

There are strong performances, the film looks great and I was captivated. So I recommend it to anyone who doesn't already know what happens. For those who do, there are some differences - so it's not a complete waste of your time if you're curious.

7/10


By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51417747

Frantz - (2016) - France/Germany

I don't know if I've said this about any film before, but Frantz feels 'soft' and warm. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone or not. All the characters keep a tight check on their emotions, despite the story being quite an emotional one - but that feels more a part of the times represented than anything else. You feel the emotions underneath. A German war widow and her in-laws are visited by a stranger, Adrien (Pierre Niney,) a Frenchman who says he was a close friend of Frantz, the deceased German soldier in question. Xenophobia, loss, forgiveness and love are all explored - in a slow, lyrical way.

This black & white film occasionally lights up into colour - but only when there's a sense of happiness and contentedness. I'm not a film scholar or anything so I'll refrain from declaring that unnecessary or pretentious. For me, black & white works a lot of the times, but not every time it is used. The Elephant Man, Cold War and The White Ribbon are films where I've thought it really does work well.

Overall, I felt Frantz to be easy to watch, comforting and relaxing.

7/10





Willy's Wonderland, 2021

A seemingly mute drifter (Nicholas Cage) ends up with four busted tires in a small town in the middle of nowhere. A local businessman offers to let him work off the cost of the repairs if he will spend the night cleaning an abandoned Chuck E Cheese like family restaurant. It soon becomes apparent that the restaurant has bigger problems than graffiti in the bathrooms, and a gang of local teenagers and the town's sheriff (Beth Grant) have their own ideas about how to deal with the strange happenings.

So look.

Look.

Seriously.

There were about 20 minutes of this movie that was just Nicholas Cage silently doing a really satisfying job of deep cleaning, alternating with pulling the spines out of evil animatronics that was just *chef's kiss* perfection. I am 100% serious.

You know how people will say "I would watch so-and-so read the phone book!"? Well, apparently I would watch Nicholas Cage meticulously clean the edges of a pinball machine with a toothbrush for HOURS.

Unfortunately, the film doesn't seem to realize just how brilliantly it has created a new genre (clean with me/horror), and so it throws a group of stereotypical teenagers into the restaurant with the drifter so that they can get naked and be stupid and get eaten by a bunch of evil puppets. The quirky charm of the first third (which is mostly like . . . what is even happening right now?) dissolves as these cookie-cutter victims squabble and have sex in a ball pit or whatever, and the rhythm of the film reverts to something much more predictable.

The performances are . . . fine. I have to imagine that the total lack of dialogue was a big selling point for Cage. I'm not sure what his character's deal is--the film seems to gesture at some sort of disability (intentional or not, the selective mutism and strict adherence to a schedule and only wanting to drink a specific drink all points in one direction), but that element is not well developed. Beth Grant gives the sheriff a bit of heft, and adds some much needed frisson to the interpersonal interactions. Emily Tosta is alright as the main teen (and sheriff's adopted daughter), Liv.

The film also spends a lot of time on backstory, which just isn't necessary. Do we really care why the singing turtle wants to eat everyone's face? Plus, the more the film explains, the less it makes sense. (For example, we are supposed to believe that this town is "the size of a stamp", and yet it was also supposed to have had enough people to support a ton of businesses, including the family restaurant?).

Despite what it is, I had fun watching this movie on a Friday night. It really is what it is. If the idea of someone doing a great job cleaning a dining room and neatly stacking chairs doesn't thrill you, subtract like a star and a half from my rating.




Nice write-up! I reviewed this film back at Corrie and it's one of my favorite films of all time, period. Glad you also love it! Here's my review for it:

https://www.imdb.com/review/rw5879977/?ref_=ur_urv
Oh yeah, I remember reading your review of it back in the day on the Corrie. Anyway, while I wouldn't quite say that I "love" it yet (as the only Peckinpah I'd currently say that for would be Bring Me The Head), it's definitely grown on me since my first couple of viewings, and it is a very good movie on the whole nonetheless.
I feel like we've talked about this before but have you read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls?
Also, what do you mean when you say "it's certainly a better choice from '69 than Easy Rider was"?
I haven't read that one yet (though I still want to), but I did listen to part of the audiobook version, as well as watched all of the movie version:



At any rate, I would say that The Wild Bunch is a better choice from '69 (obligatory "tee-hee") because, while Easy Rider is obviously extremely representative of the more free-willing spirit of its movement, along with reflecting the contemporary social tensions of the late 60's, I would still say that TWB was just as impactful in the way it straddled and influenced the two genres it represented, and most importantly, it's just a better movie IMO, since half of its runtime isn't spent watching two hippies do nothing but just drive cross-country, you know?



The trick is not minding


Willy's Wonderland, 2021

A seemingly mute drifter (Nicholas Cage) ends up with four busted tires in a small town in the middle of nowhere. A local businessman offers to let him work off the cost of the repairs if he will spend the night cleaning an abandoned Chuck E Cheese like family restaurant. It soon becomes apparent that the restaurant has bigger problems than graffiti in the bathrooms, and a gang of local teenagers and the town's sheriff (Beth Grant) have their own ideas about how to deal with the strange happenings.

So look.

Look.

Seriously.

There were about 20 minutes of this movie that was just Nicholas Cage silently doing a really satisfying job of deep cleaning, alternating with pulling the spines out of evil animatronics that was just *chef's kiss* perfection. I am 100% serious.

You know how people will say "I would watch so-and-so read the phone book!"? Well, apparently I would watch Nicholas Cage meticulously clean the edges of a pinball machine with a toothbrush for HOURS.

Unfortunately, the film doesn't seem to realize just how brilliantly it has created a new genre (clean with me/horror), and so it throws a group of stereotypical teenagers into the restaurant with the drifter so that they can get naked and be stupid and get eaten by a bunch of evil puppets. The quirky charm of the first third (which is mostly like . . . what is even happening right now?) dissolves as these cookie-cutter victims squabble and have sex in a ball pit or whatever, and the rhythm of the film reverts to something much more predictable.

The performances are . . . fine. I have to imagine that the total lack of dialogue was a big selling point for Cage. I'm not sure what his character's deal is--the film seems to gesture at some sort of disability (intentional or not, the selective mutism and strict adherence to a schedule and only wanting to drink a specific drink all points in one direction), but that element is not well developed. Beth Grant gives the sheriff a bit of heft, and adds some much needed frisson to the interpersonal interactions. Emily Tosta is alright as the main teen (and sheriff's adopted daughter), Liv.

The film also spends a lot of time on backstory, which just isn't necessary. Do we really care why the singing turtle wants to eat everyone's face? Plus, the more the film explains, the less it makes sense. (For example, we are supposed to believe that this town is "the size of a stamp", and yet it was also supposed to have had enough people to support a ton of businesses, including the family restaurant?).

Despite what it is, I had fun watching this movie on a Friday night. It really is what it is. If the idea of someone doing a great job cleaning a dining room and neatly stacking chairs doesn't thrill you, subtract like a star and a half from my rating.

I think I remember this playing at Warehouse Cinema in Frederick and thought :
“Wait....what?”

I ultimately skipped it, and figured I’d wait to rent in from the local rental but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Reading your review.....*sigh*. I may just break down and do it.
I mean....Nic Cage vs angry muppets (possessed? Or is this some sort of Chopping Mall deal where they have an electrical short and go haywire?)

I mean.....I’ll only get answers if I watch this....and that may be the only real reason I watch it.

That and to see the dead serious line delivered from the trailer.

“He’s not locked in there’s with them....they’re locked in there with him!!”



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

Revolution Rent (Victor P. Alvarez & Andres Senor, 2019)
6.5/10
Security (Peter Chelsom, 2021)
5/10
Power of the Press (Lew Landers, 1943)
5.5/10
Ali & the Queens (Lucky Kuswandi, 2021)
6/10

Indonesian teenager Iqbaal Dhiafakhri Ramadhan comes to NYC to track down his mother who came years before, but he finds other ways to become part of a family.
Gully (Nabil Elderkin, 2019)
5/10
Vice Versa (Peter Ustinov, 1948)
+ 6/10
The Outer Gate (Ray Cannon, 1937)
5/10
Mogul Mowgli (Bassam Tariq, 2020)
6/10

British rapper Riz Ahmed is about to start a world tour but travels to Pakistan first where he learns he has an autoimmune disease which threatens his life.
Escapade (Philip Leacock, 1955)
+ 6/10
Frankenstein 1970 (Howard W. Koch, 1958)
4/10
I Dream of Jeanie (Allan Dwan, 1952)
6/10 tons of blackface
Two of Us (Filippo Meneghetti, 2019)
6.5/10

Lesbian soulmates Martine Chevallier and Barbara Sukowa have been keeping their love hidden from the former's children and then she has a stroke. Ominous cat-and-mouse game plays out as more of a thriller than a love story.
Fatherhood (Paul Weitz, 2021)
6/10
The Black Scorpion (Edward Lustig, 1957)
5/10
Kid Nightingale (George Amy, 1939)
5.5/10
Silver Skates (Mikhail Lokshin, 2020)
6.5/10

An ice-skating pickpocket has charmed a noblewoman to go out on a date, but then he runs into his boss. Russian semi-epic often seems like a Hollywood production.
Akilla's Escape (Charles Officer, 2020)
5.5/10
Open Secret (John Reinhardt, 1948)
5/10
Carefree (Mark Sandrich, 1938)
6.5/10
Sin (Andrey Konchalovskiy, 2019)
6/10

Michelangelo (Alberto Testone) lives a lonely life for the most part, but as long as he can sculpt marble he may just survive.
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Solid.



Not bad. Has a little nastiness to it. Great acting and looks fantastic.



Pretty good if you can ignore the fact that it's a sequel to arguably one of the greatest movies of all time.



Outstanding! Can't believe I hadn't seen this one yet. Can see watching this along with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as a double bill some night.



Professional horse shoe straightener
'Censor' (2021)

Dir.: Prano Bailey-Bond


WARNING: "Censor spoilers" spoilers below
About halfway through Censor, the viewer realises what we are seeing isn't really what we started out seeing. The premise of the film really is quite good, but the predictable nature of it means that it really has to deliver a finale that makes it stand out. And it doesn't.

Also (and this may be incredibly harsh), the film-makers played up to the fact that we are watching a low budget 1980s horror film with low production values by making the production values feel very low. That is the entire point of the film. But it still doesn't remove the fact that despite some lovely lighting and a good central performance, it could have been a little more polished. One death scene in particular just didn't click at all.

There are however some lovely aspect ratio changes / resolution changes and a thumping score that probably deserve to be dissected further on a second watch.





I haven't read that one yet (though I still want to), but I did listen to part of the audiobook version, as well as watched all of the movie version:



At any rate, I would say that The Wild Bunch is a better choice from '69 (obligatory "tee-hee") because, while Easy Rider is obviously extremely representative of the more free-willing spirit of its movement, along with reflecting the contemporary social tensions of the late 60's, I would still say that TWB was just as impactful in the way it straddled and influenced the two genres it represented, and most importantly, it's just a better movie IMO, since half of its runtime isn't spent watching two hippies do nothing but just drive cross-country, you know?
Heh. I love Easy Rider.






Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) - 5.5/10. Its decent. A little different from the other two. This felt more like a murder investigation than haunting. Didn't even realize one of these was being made. Its a decent watch. For the first time, I can say, Vera Farmiga was not looking hot in a movie. She looked like an aunt! Definitely a disappointment there!


With the Euros on and work pressure, I am watching a lot of repeat movies these days. Dont have time for new movies!
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