Reviews

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6/10
A solid slice of 1970s political paranoia and pessimism
10 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Not one of the classics of its subgenre (the political paranoia thriller), but still a solid film with a superb Hackman, a top-notch supporting cast (Richard Widmark exudes oily authority with just a smile), good cinematography, and plot twists (not all of them plausible). The scene where Hackman observes from a plane a bomb being planted inside Widmark's car is terrific. A very 1970s film - right down to its pessimistic ending. **1/2 out of 4.
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2/10
Jess Franco at his most uninspired
10 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When you watch a Jess Franco film you must set your expectations accordingly, but "Dr. M Strikes" (which apparently has nothing to do with Mabuse or Orloff, although it name-drops both) is probably one of the worst films of his entire (huge) output. He tries to do sort of a straight spy film this time, with few exploitation elements (apart from the "monster" with the cellotaped eye who strangles people), and he fails miserably. Most of the short running time is padded with conversations between people who keep repeating the same things - you know, like it happens in those daily soaps. But at the end Franco apparently is in a hurry to get home, so he wraps up the entire "plot" in literally 3 minutes! You can have some laughs with the TERRIBLE night-to-day-to-night continuity at one point, but most of this film is a dreary slog that even Franco fans will not appreciate. 0.5 out of 4 stars.
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6/10
At once clichéd and subversive cop thriller
9 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
You know, I never got what all the fuss was about William Friedkin's "The French Connection". I always found that movie overrated. I prefer "To Live And Die In L.A.", which also has a unique car chase, but also stylish direction by Friedkin, a pulsating music score (I can't stop listening to the main theme), and a script that appears run-of-the-mill at first, but has its share of surprises, and one subversive shocker. What prevents the film from having a greater impact is the characters - they are hollow. Willem Dafoe is impressive in one of his first important roles, but William Petersen is bland in his film debut, and so is John Pankow. Even in 1985 I bet you could guess which of the three would go on to have the most successful film career. **1/2 out of 4.
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Seven (1979)
5/10
These seven are less than magnificent
7 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Seven" is less polished than Andy Sidaris' later girls-with-guns movies from 1985 to 1998, but it has some of his trademarks: exotic locales, topless women, helicopters, and things/people blowing up. It's disjointedly scripted and crudely directed (with more than one guest appearance by the boom mike), but if you survive the unexciting first hour, the remaining 30 minutes do have some action - and some Peckinpah-style bloodletting. ** out of 4.
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Rocky IV (1985)
6/10
"Rocky" for the MTV age
5 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Virtually the same movie as "Rocky III", with a better (and longer) climactic fight, but Dolph Lundgren, although physically intimidating, is a wooden log in terms of personality in comparison to Mr.T. Stallone's screenplay is formulaic to the extreme, and often ridiculous (how can anyone last 15 rounds with a man who supposedly has three times the punching power of the average heavyweight? As for the Russian crowd chanting "Rocky! Rocky!", yeah, sure...), but as a director he keeps the film speeding like a runaway locomotive, and the editing is sometimes exhilaratingly masterful. Killer - and timeless - 1980s soundtrack. **1/2 out of 4.
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6/10
Sweet if predictable one-joke comedy
3 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Look Who's Talking" was a box-office smash, mostly for the gimmick of the audience being able to hear the baby's inner thoughts. This gimmick, and some amusing fantasy sequences, help carry an otherwise ordinary and predictable story, though it does run out of steam. John Travolta gets to play a charming goofball, Kirstie Alley is in her prime, and Bruce Willis does some good voice work. It's strange: the film is pretty raunchy for "family entertainment", but it would have been funnier if it was even raunchier - which, of course, would cost it an R rating and a decrease in family tickets. **1/2 out of 4.
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Class Reunion (1982)
6/10
Joyous slasher-film parody
3 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
John Hughes' first film screenplay; more than a little crude at times, but you can still spot the emergence of a new talent. This joyous parody of slasher films at the height of their popularity has a pleasingly loose quality, several bright, surreal moments (like Gary's dance with Meredith's sweater), and an enthusiastic, engaging cast. It also functions perfectly as a time capsule - with lots of great 1980s music, and a surprise older hit as well. **1/2 out of 4.
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Wilder Napalm (1993)
5/10
Forgotten black comedy has good special effects but tiresome story
2 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Good special effects and spectacular pyrotechnics fight against a long, pointless, tiresome story (there is a sequence in the movie that's a good metaphor for it - a character drives a lawnmower machine round and round and round without going anywhere). The cast is talented, but some "quirky" touches (the singing firemen) add little. I must mention that Debra Winger had guts to do the diving-from-the-roof-back-first stunt - and I'm 99% certain it was really her doing it. ** out of 4.
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Continuum: Second Time (I) (2013)
Season 2, Episode 13
8/10
Mind-bending second season finale
1 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The second season of "Continuum" has been, on the whole, a major improvement on the first. The show has gone from "I'm thinking about quitting after the next episode" to "I can't wait to watch the next episode". This season finale has plot twists that will blow your mind, and an epic super-powered fight scene between Kiera and Travis. The ending seems to come straight out of "The Twilight Zone". And I must mention the brilliant casting of young and old Alec - you can actually believe they are the same person with a 65-year difference! *** out of 4.
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6/10
A genuinely strange movie
29 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This genuinely strange endeavor is a minor technical achievement for its time, but suffers from an unexciting, talky script. Richard Harris does an admirable job reacting to people that aren't really there. Recommended mostly to kids with warped tastes, or adults in need of a weird trip (the fact that "real" miniatures and animated things seem to be interchangeable in Lilliput only enhances the weirdness). **1/2 out of 4.
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