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JohnSeal

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1075 reviews in total 
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Hey, fish eyes!, 31 December 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No reviews for a film...not even an external one? I'm always up for challenges of this kind! American Autobahn is (as you might have guessed) a road movie about German immigrant Rudi (or is it Otto?) (Michael von der Goltz) and his attempts to 'make it' in America as a journalist. Instead he gets mixed up in Central American smuggling which takes him across country, traveling from the still decrepit New York City of the early '80s to San Francisco. When his car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, he meets cute with tomboy auto mechanic Mary (Jan Jalenak) and the two become entangled in a web of love and (mild) intrigue. Jim Jarmusch (before, after or during Stranger Than Paradise?) has a small but memorable role as a film director who specializes in sado-masochistic pornography, and the film also benefits from an excellent soundtrack encompassing everything from 1920s jazz to Miserlou, Hank Williams, and Kraftwerk. This low, low budget indie is ambitious but a bit disjointed: there's enough here to suggest writer-director Andre Degas was capable of quite a bit more. What happened?

Deptford Fun City, 30 December 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's hard to imagine a film being made today opening with the superscript 'DEPTFORD London', but in 1972 the Children's Film Foundation took the plunge and set this production in one of the Big Smoke's least tourist-familiar neighbourhoods. Hide and Seek stars future Spandau Ballet singer Gary Kemp as Keith, a streetwise youngster helping Chris Barker (Peter Newby), a runaway schoolboy who's been dubbed 'The Deptford Dodger' by local media in honour of his shoplifting feats. This being a CFF film there is, of course, a backstory that makes it clear that young Chris is the unfortunate victim of society. Also on hand are Robin Askwith as a phony PC and Roy Dotrice as a rather crusty old man in desperate need of a bath. All in all, a delightful time capsule of an early '70s London that has long since disappeared.

Stall on Salvador, 25 December 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What an odd little film this is. Stall on Salvador (the title of which actually appears as Stall on Salvator on Facets subtitled print) is a brief, 78-minute examination of the Polish resistance of World War II. David Hemmings look-a-like Janusz Gajos stars as Michal, a shaggy haired member of the resistance who wanders through the film's bleak, black-and-white setting. There are short looks at German mistreatment of Polish prisoners, but at first I wasn't even sure the film was about World War II: in fact, I'm still not entirely convinced. Stall on Salvador's few Germans remain distinctly indistinct; they're little more than generic bad guys representative of an evil authoritarian government. Was that an intentional decision by director Pawel Komorowski, a possible nod to Cold War era dissidents? I have no idea, and there's virtually nothing on the internet to prove or disprove my theory. Facets bare bones DVD includes a print formatted at 1.85:1; despite IMDb's assertion that the film was shot in 2.35:1 the compositions on the disc seem correct. The print is not in the best shape, with some mild damage, reel change markers, and numerous digital artifacts. Nonetheless, you probably won't have another opportunity to see this film, and the presentation will certainly be good enough for all but the pickiest Polish cinema enthusiasts.

Women drivers!, 22 December 2016
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A lot of Thunderbirds episodes are great fun, despite (and frequently because of) how the series' writing reflects an odd mixture of futuristic optimism and traditional social mores. This, however, is not one of them. Instead, we find out how women drivers can't tell the brake from the accelerator, sparking a parking-lot conflagration capable of taking out a 350-story 'city in the sky'. To make things worse, the fire traps an incredibly annoying all-American family in the building basement: Dad is a know-it-all, Mom is a shrew, and son is a simpering brat who likes to play hide and seek in inappropriate places. Of course it's up to International Rescue to save the family, who bizarrely seem to be the only human beings affected by the fire. At least we get to see one of my favourite Thunderbirds contraption, the Mole, in action!

The Night Advances, 15 October 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Colour me surprised that this made-in-Mexico drama hasn't garnered any reviews until now. Directed by Roberto Gavaldon, the film stars Pedro Armendariz as Marcos, a professional jai alai player undefeated on the court in 26 matches. The super confident Marcos has acquired a Trumpian disdain for weak losers, including a fellow player who suffers a fracture as a result of Marcos' carelessness. When he's not dominating his opponents, he's trying to balance his relationships with several women, including recently widowed old flame Sara (Anita Blanch), nightclub thrush Lucrecia (Eva Martino), and mother-to-be (uh oh!) Rebeca (Rebeca Iturbide). Marcos promises to wed Rebeca without telling her he's about to leave Mexico permanently, setting in motion a plot by Rebeca's brother Armando (Carlos Muzquiz) to blackmail the first class heel while also getting out of his debt to gambler Marcial (Jose Ma. Linares Rivas). A potent blend of soap, intrigue and jai alai action, La Noche Avanza is virtually unknown in the United States but is well worth tracking down.

Charlie don't behave, 2 October 2016
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It may come as a surprise to some, but just because you enroll in the armed services doesn't mean you're a fully formed human being. Such is the message of Blondes Prefer Gentlemen, a short subject produced on behalf of the U.S. Navy and intended to teach young officers the basics of good table manners. We meet Charlie and Jim, two wet behind the ears naval officers invited to dinner by their commander. Charlie is an utter slob, who grabs all the hors d'oeuvres, yaks about the big game in front of the uninterested ladies (including his cutie pie blonde date), and sparks up an after dinner cigarette when there's no ashtray on the table. In contrast, Jim knows how to use both a soup spoon and a butter knife, and waits for an invitation to smoke. Guess who ends up with the girl? I'm sure this film made a great impression on young men about to be dispatched to Vietnam.

Context, 24 September 2016
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can only guess at the context of this bizarre little drama. The film opens with a stationary shot of some smoldering ruins. Enter, stage left, a group of three armed men (hunters? soldiers?), who discover two dead bodies on the ground in front of the ruins. The film shows them removing the bodies from the camera's view, then continuing on their way. So why did they move the corpses? They are still, presumably, there: the men had less than no time to bury them. Is this some sort of meta-movie in which characters acknowledge our discomfort with the sight of the dead? Who were the victims? Did an out of control fire do them in, or were they killed by marauding Indians, or...what? If you think you have the answer, drop me a line.

Joke's on you, 24 September 2016
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Tortured by his innermost demons, a drunken man sits and contemplates in front of a decanter, a glass, and a handgun. Uncertain about whether or not to continue his meaningless existence, the man casts longing glances at all three objects. Picking up the handgun, he holds it to his head and ...well, I DID check the spoiler warning, so you have no cause to complain ... pretends he is about to pull the trigger. Instead he puts the gun down, takes a swig from the glass, and laughs uproariously at the camera, implicating the audience in their bloodthirsty desire to see someone kill himself. Ha ha, 1902 audiences: ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Spicy!, 24 September 2016
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No one else has bothered to write anything about this under a minute American Mutoscope short subject, so I'd better fill the void. There is not much to say. An artist (oh, definitely an artist!) is taking photographs of a young woman. The young woman is wearing some light material that is barely there; the fact that the only surviving print of this film comes from a paper print (and is subsequently quite degraded) makes the state of her undress even less clear to the viewer. At first I thought she was naked - but no, there's definitely something between her and the camera. As the film fades out, she glances cheekily towards the motion picture camera, nearly breaking the fourth wall and probably sending the men of 1902's hearts into palpitations of ecstasy. The End.

No excuses needed, 18 September 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What an interesting little film. Combining footage from Downey's earlier Ball's Bluff, interview footage from New York City singles bars, a recreation of President Garfield's assassination, and staged scenes of professional trickster Alan Abel (still with us as of this writing at either 86 or 92, depending on whether you believe Wikipedia or IMDb) expounding on the necessity for clothing animals, this is a perfect encapsulation of everything that made the 60s so vital. As an extra bonus, some of the contemporary footage was shot outside the very first TGI Friday's, which opened in Manhattan in 1965. It was probably a step up from the crummy restaurant chain it later became. There's even music (presumably now cleared?) from The Cream, The Hollies, Janis Joplin, The Monkees, and The Who. To be honest, I think No More Excuses works better than Downey's acclaimed Putney Swope, which I've always considered an amazing concept in search of a better movie.

Footnote: Abel's wife Jeanne (also still alive) ran for President twice (1964 and 1968) using the pseudonym Mrs. Yetta Bronstein. She also recorded a version of Ticket to Ride that has to be heard to be believed.


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