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Charmingly realistic science-fiction thriller.
Mostly low-key and grounded in the real world. Almost all of this movie works beautifully. Special effects are slipped in where needed amid the non-actors and non-standard locations. Simple story is literally a journey. Danger, surprises and humor. Who will survive? Not everyone! Good for grown-ups but children may be bored or imagine that this is a documentary.
Blair Witch (2016)
This is a movie for people who like this sort of thing, especially the first one. It is worth remembering that the original was extra interesting for a variety of reasons, including the way in which it was developed and produced. This one is an imitation that uses the same tricks and adds some. New technology is introduced that does not help the hapless victims at all and even makes things worse for them. Do not recall seeing one map or compass. Didn't hurt that the characters don't seem to be designed to be very sympathetic. This time we are the old folks by the side of the road waving "goodbye". Once the nonsense plot is established things become increasingly nightmare-like, which is cool. Nightmares need not make sense. Spoiler: no survivors, and we can't really even tell what happened to them.
Strange and scary family picture.
Also funny. Almost anything I can say would be a "spoiler". You may not want to let the children see this, as it might upset and confuse them. For adults it could be very entertaining and even thought provoking. If you liked Hausu (1977), Night of the Living Dead (1968) and The Birds (1963) then you might like this. Full of weird surprises to keep you guessing exactly what is going on, and who on Earth dreamed this up. Gruesome, violent and disturbing in places, beautiful and technically well-executed. The setting is realistic but the story is so strange that the acting might appear odd at times. That this movie seems intended to say something about society says something about society.
Fun, violent giant monster fantasy.
I saw this in a theater in 2D and found it enjoyable. 3D should make it better, a little (if you like this sort of thing; otherwise, stay away). Has everything a proper Godzilla movie should have. Yet another origin myth is provided, but it isn't too bad and does not take too much time to explain. The actor in charge of this does a nice job and this little bit of exposition ended with applause from the audience. The rest of the exposition is gotten out of the way so fast it is almost comic. No problem. A kid wearing a red baseball cap has a ringside seat for some of the giant monster battle. Most of the Godzilla movie homage is not so obvious, unless you count the entire plot. Massive destructive action is exciting and dramatic but not too harsh. Most kids don't give a darn when people are getting killed in a movie unless they don't realize it is only a movie, so let them know. Humans are portrayed as noble and heroic and doing the best they can in a difficult situation. Some of the human elements of the plot kind of threw me like they did not make sense and it goes by pretty quick. Repeated viewing should not hurt this movie much. Worth seeing once.
Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (2013)
Entertaining and sobering story about 5 young Germans living in WW2.
Saw this in a theater in two parts and found it fascinating entertainment, as well as educational and sobering. At the end the audience was very still and quiet, clearly impressed. This movie tells a barely plausible story of five young Germans who happen to be celebrating their new adulthood as their country's war against the world is heating up. The characters and situations that follow seem like the usual composites from history. The really great thing is the artistry and technical sophistication with which it is presented. Rather than cartoon villains and heroes and clearly contemporary style situations we are presented with a variety of personalities, right down to the smallest character, dealing with situations that really occurred during the war. The only spoiler I want to give you is that the five friends have agreed to meet back home in Berlin when the war is over (around Christmas?) but as things get worse they sometimes joke that they may not be in time for the Fall Semester (of what year?). After a while the audience is really wondering who, if any, shall survive. Please show this to impressionable young people for a quick history lesson.
The Conjuring (2013)
Well-crafted, scary fun.
I seldom give movies an 8, but this one is quite good. Not caring much if it is inspired by alleged true impressions of events, or whatever. Basically a story of supernatural horrors trying to kill people, to put it mildly, and how they reach out for help. Will everybody get killed? Kind of looks like it in the super scary first half. Then they tone it down into more of an adventure. Seems a little well lit at times, but when the darkness comes it acts like a character, and of course it is out to get them. Many skilled artists did great work on this picture. The soundtrack could be used in your Halloween yard haunt 'cause it is real creepy. Be advised that the supernatural horror likes to attack children. Enjoy.
Interesting story very well told.
Everything about this movie is excellent, unless you are looking for lots of special effects and dislike storytelling. Concerns a young lady who has become an orphan somewhere in Spain between the Great Wars who goes to live with an old bachelor. He rejects the mores of society and preaches freedom of thought and action to his friends but tends to be rather traditional and overbearing when it suits him. It pleases him to control his young ward and treat her like a wife. In time she meets an artist who she likes and things get more complicated. If you laugh, things are funny, if you are enraged or afraid for the characters, then it is drama. In this kind of slice-of-life movie you can pick and choose who to root for. Story flows beautifully like a good novel.
Crazy Horse (2011)
The hard work and artistry of (maybe) the best burlesque venue.
Gentlemen, this is it. A fascinating contribution to world culture presented in film documentary by the great Mr. Wiseman. Fantastic t and a displayed by talented artists whose dedication cannot be denied. A fast education on how a modern burlesque venue operates and maintains the enviable status of "best in Paris and possibly the world" (my words). As usual Mr. Wiseman allows his subject to speak for itself. Glimpses of the city also provided. Really interesting to see how the tableaux are created. To see these wonderful stage effects without having to travel all the way over there is a treat. Highly erotic and charming. If you want your children to think that erotic entertainment is bad trash or if you cherish a belief that this sort of thing cannot be classy, forget it. Otherwise, yes.
Wake Wood (2009)
The madness of grief leads to supernatural horror fun.
I love that our beloved Hammer horror movies are well enough remembered that people are trying to make stylish, classy and inexpensive movies like this. Hammer also made comedies (hint, hint). This one turned out very good. Well written, with the first hour devoted to setting up and exploring a good variety of tastefully presented horrors. Good acting, good staging and camera work, good story-telling. Seems these two people are in a state of distraction due to grief over the horrible death of their little girl. They up and move to a little farming community where things are a bit odd. They are invited to gain some closure by resurrecting their child ... for three days. That is all. Must obey the rules and do everything correctly or extremely dangerous unspecified results will happen. They go ahead anyway. How on Earth the folk of this village ever learned this supernatural trick would make a story in itself, and we are fortunately invited to imagine it for ourselves as the expected flashback/exposition stuff never comes. None of these people really know what they are playing with in true folkloric tradition, any more than we do. This charming family time soon becomes a violent supernatural nightmare for a half hour of more typical horror fun. In the end we get a non-resolution bordering on madness. Nurturing family values get a bit twisted, so this movie is not for everyone. Once in a while I see something I would have done differently, like a lady giving up blood for a weird ceremony by having her veterinarian husband cut open the palm of her hand. Why the palm? Couldn't he have done that better? Never mind. A movie this good will be noted for it's few imperfections. Great Halloween gift for certain people.
Das schreckliche Mädchen (1990)
Splendid cinematic parable both funny and serious.
The reviewers do not exaggerate, this really is a fine movie. Don't let the subtitles stop you. Lead actress gives a very fine performance as a woman who grows up in a nice, funny town full of basically good people who lived under the Nazis during Hitler's rule. As she grows and studies the world around her she discovers hints of past and present that were not obvious at first. Let us just say that life under the Nazis absolutely required compromise that could amount to dreadful criminal activity by any civilized standard, and old influences die hard. This woman becomes the catalyst of social change and historic preservation, driving herself to the brink of madness and risking her life in the process. This movie is great fun anyway. The fun humor and joy of life never quite go away, even when events turn dramatic and dangerous. I just can't say enough about the artistry and skill that went into this movie. If you see it and you grew up in a town populated by fallible human beings you may feel charged up by the breathtaking emotional ride toward a better world.