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88 reviews in total 
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Tense Chapter of "The Invaders", 6 October 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Beautiful locations and a score that sometimes resembles music of Bernard Herrmann bring distinction to this tense, exciting episode. Guest star Robert Walker, Jr is an alien with a difference. When mysterious deaths attract his attention to the area, David Vincent arrives to investigate and finds Walker responsible. He manages to take the alien prisoner, but a gullible woman (future Mrs. Thinnes, Lynn Loring) helps him escape while Vincent sleeps. There are a few disturbing scenes and a fair amount of excitement in this episode and the locations, meant to be West Virginia, are often striking.

Besides Walker and Loring, who are very good, we have R.G. Armstrong and a few other TV stalwarts of the period in the cast. Frontiere's score is noteworthy and effective and director Robert Butler generates plenty of action and tense drama. A top notch chapter.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Two Hours in Hell, 17 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Calling this film 'two hours in hell' is not meant as a put down. This is an accomplished film in most ways. The actors are good, even excellent at times and the director captures a sure sense of place and knows how to depict situations with great realism.

This is the type of film that pulls the viewer into its world, using a semi-documentary style. Filmed in a frigid, grey Montreal, it's an unpleasant world, with no humor or true pleasure. The inhabitants are desperate drug addicts who continually pay for their next fix by selling their bodies or stealing. The title is ironic: there does not seem to be any love in this world either. There is sex, but it's rough and without tenderness. We only glimpse the possibility of love between Alex and Bruno at the start, when the film looks like it might be going to tell their story as a desperate couple. But the real focus of the film is Alex. We spend a few days with him, watching him waste time with demanding abusive friends, or selling himself, or stealing. The film works because Alex is played by a handsome and charismatic actor, Alexandre Landry. Throughout, we feel that Alex is a good kid who has gone terribly wrong somehow, and has wound up in a treacherous, possibly deadly downward spiral. The film is a series of realistically presented scenes, showing Alex's world. It's a world we are probably very happy not to inhabit ourselves. The film isn't perfect--the final section, with Bruno, is somewhat confusing to follow--but it works because of Mr. Landry and a cinematically effective style.

Another Gripping Chapter of The Invaders, 13 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 8th chapter of Season One, "Quantity: Unknown" has some original plot touches and uses a number of eye-catching locations, including a great psychedelic night club and a monumental structure featuring a high waterfall.

The cast includes James Whitmore, Susan Strasberg, Barney Philips, Milton Seltzer and William Talman in his last filmed appearance. All are excellent. And as always, Roy Thinnes is a standout.

This episode might recall the great film noir KISS ME DEADLY, as sinister forces go in search of a mysterious metal cylinder. It's easy to imagine TV audiences of 1967 being gripped by this one. It really never lets up and it has a stronger emotional component than some previous chapters.

A visually arresting and exciting episode.

Stand (2014/I)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Excellent, not to be missed, 19 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

STAND is the kind of film that pulls you in, holds on and hits you hard. It asks a classic, eternal question: when is doing the right thing worth risking everything else? Many in the US know that life for gay people in Russia leaves a lot to be desired. This film goes a long way to make us see the oppressed existence of those who do not conform to the "norms" of society. The only way they get along is by maintaining a low profile and not making waves.

Anton and Vlad are a happy male couple. Both attractive and intelligent, they have a seemingly ideal relationship, as lovers and best friends. But a rift starts between them one night, when they witness the beating of a another gay man. Anton wanted to stop the car and help, but Vlad kept going. Later it is learned that the victim has died. Anton devotes himself to uncovering the killer and Vlad somewhat reluctantly, out of love, agrees to help him. But Anton takes one chance too many in his search and Vlad reacts with anger out of fear for his partner's safety. After a painful confrontation, they go their separate ways ,with Anton pursuing his mission at first alone, then with the help of a handsome friend, Andrey. No real spoiler here; the rest of the story is strong stuff and not easy to forget.

The actors are uniformly excellent, with Renat Shuteev, as Anton, deserving top honors for a very convincing characterization. Director Jonathan Taieb does a fine job of setting the scene and evoking excellent performances. A few scenes seem slightly overlong, even superfluous, but they don't detract from the overall quality of this film. An LGBT film with a strong message and artistic value.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An all-around good episode, 21 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An all-around good episode of Gunsmoke. Very well acted, some excitement and a dramatically compelling story line.

John Crawford was expert at playing thugs and bad men in the Old West, and he's at the top of his game here, playing amoral Loy Bishop. When Bishop's plan to collect a thousand-dollar reward for "capturing" his former friend, a wanted murderer, does not work out the way he expects, he plans to retaliate on Marshal Dillon. Bishop had shot his friend in the back and delivered the body to Dillon, who saw through his criminal plan. Part of Bishop's new plan, that of revenge, includes the participation of Rose Ellen. She is supposed to seduce and distract Dillon, who's been called to another town as a ruse to get him out of Dodge and into Bishop's clutches. Things look pretty bad for the Marshal until Rose Ellen breaks down and helps him escape. When all is said and done--it's Gunsmoke after all, and Marshal Dillon can't be killed off the show--Rose Ellen expects to be the Marshal's "woman". Again, it's Gunsmoke, and he just isn't interested in romance. So poor naive Rose Ellen is left with nothing but an offer to go to Dodge City and look for a job.

This is a very good example of how a pretty formulaic (though always engaging and well-wrought) series can occasionally touch on deeper human values and feelings. Bethel Leslie, who plays Rose Ellen, does an excellent job of conveying the character's despair and emptiness at the end. It's a convincing, "real" moment in a story that in many ways had to be contrived. Very likely, there were many decent people back in those days who ended up with little to hold onto in their lives.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not a Great Episode, But Still Worth a Look, 30 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Contrary to the previous user reviews here, there is no need to disparage Rod Serling or his great series "The Twilight Zone" when discussing an unrelated "Gunsmoke" episode.

The biggest problem in "Coventry" is with villain Dean Beard remaining in Dodge after certain events in which he is clearly involved. He's really asking for trouble. A seemingly clever trickster like Beard would have skipped town. Joe Maross gives a convincing performance as "rotten to the core" villain Dean Beard. He makes the blatant morality play of "Coventry" work. Another good thing is the visual appeal of the episode's denouement, set in amid a windstorm on a desolate prairie. Certainly not one of the great "Gunsmoke" episodes, but worth an occasional look.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good Episode until the last act, 24 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a fine Gunsmoke episode until a turn of events near the end spoils the credibility. Actors Dianne Foster, Jason Evers give excellent performances as featured characters. Foster plays Cornelia, a woman whose husband is killed by Matt Dillon out of necessity. When Matt explains the situation to the widow, she only vows revenge and plans to have him killed in reprisal. After a couple of failed attempts to find a gunman brave enough to go against the Marshall, she is approached by Ben Harden (Jason Evers). His handsome looks and pleasant manner win Cornelia over. A romance begins with Ben and she seems to be having second thoughts about her revenge plot. When Matt sees Ben in the Long Branch, he tells him that he suspects Cornelia has approached him about her plot. In other words, he implies that Cornelia is only romancing Ben so that he will be willing to do her dirty work. However, we don't really know if that is true, since Cornelia does seem very taken with Ben. Logically, Ben goes to Cornelia and asks if what Marshall Dillon implies is true. She answers only that she loves him and they embrace. Then, illogically, Ben announces he will carry out Cornelia's reprisal and kill Matt Dillon. He rushes out of the room and after a moment's reflection, Cornelia tries to catch up with him. In only a few moments, Ben has followed the Marshall 10 miles out of town where he plans to confront him with a gun. Cornelia arrives moments too late and must see Ben lying dead after Matt had to shoot him in self defense.

This is a good plot with a faulty final act. Ben should not have changed his mind so quickly about killing Matt: he could have believed Cornelia had changed her own mind about revenge or simply refused to do the job. In spite of that, it's an engaging episode with good performances by an attractive cast.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Lurid, unconvincing and ultimately pointless, 14 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Diane Keaton is a charming and attractive performer, but she is not up to this role. She is visibly uncomfortable in the sleaze/sex scenes and often resorts to mannerisms familiar from her Annie Hall character (watch this film and think of Annie Hall. It's obvious she is not immersed in the Theresa character). On the other hand, Keaton does well in the scenes where she is a teacher, and is quite convincing. Despite the all-around histrionics, she is not bad in the family scenes with sister and father. But this film fails for a few reasons. It has a dark, depressive atmosphere that is not justified by its outcome: poor Theresa is damaged emotionally by her physical 'defects' and by a too-strict Catholic upbringing, this is believable. And it's believable that a person lacking self-confidence would seek out acceptance and affirmation from promiscuous sex (a fairly common scenario, actually). But the film really does seem to say that Theresa deserves her fate in the end. She blows off the one man (Atherton) who would have made sense as a partner and feels compelled to continue a descent into debauchery. Doesn't this film seem to say, keep up with this kind of lifestyle and you'll end up miserable and bitter (like Theresa's sister ) or brutally murdered? This film seems to indulge us in its sleazy world, yet it seems to judge Theresa for immersing herself in it in a vain attempt to ease her pain. Note the way director Richard Brooks chooses to end the film, on Theresa's face as the life blinks out of her--there is no requiem, no final coda expressing pity or remorse. We have been shown the brutal murder of a sympathetic character as if it were a scene from a cheap horror movie. Diane Keaton is not solely to blame for the ultimate failure of the film, the writers and director are more responsible. Still, it's hard not to imagine Keaton and Tuesday Weld exchanging roles: Weld has a much wider range as an actress and certainly would have handled the 'secret life' with more conviction.

12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Sex & Death in a beautiful setting, 2 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"L'Inconnu du Lac" is a beautifully shot film. That's part of the seductive nature of the experience for the characters and for the viewer. We don't see a lot of gay-themed films like this, minus most of the stereotypes, in a minimalist setting, with threadbare narrative. The protagonist, Franck, is a cute, 20-30-something guy who swims at a lake frequented by other gay men in search of sun and sex. Franck has no trouble attracting attention, with and without his swimsuit on. He quickly befriends an older, unattractive man who always sits alone and seems aloof. Franck's need for connection to others is emphasized by this friendship. When Michel, a handsome, mustachioed hunk, is spotted, Franck goes into hot pursuit mode. The two connect after a while, in one of several graphic sexual encounters, and, much too soon, Franck thinks he's in love. The film takes a sinister turn when Franck witnesses Michel drown a previous companion in the lake. Consumed by desire for Michel, he tells no one about this and, though he admits to a detective that he was there on the evening of the murder, denies he saw anything. Why? Franck is so sexually addicted to Michel that he cannot bear to let him go by exposing him. The relationship between the two men continues, without real development, since Michel will have none of Franck's insistence on anything more than sex. In the end, Franck is consumed, literally by desire: the "petite mort" of sexual pleasure becomes the annihilation of the self. The film's beautiful setting plays against the disturbing narrative, making it a unique, provocative, and often erotic experience.

16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
An excellent main actor saves this one, 13 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Thure Lindhardt is at the center of this film and he's really its only saving grace. His Erik is the kind of character many of us know, or have been, in life. He's in his late 30s, but hasn't really done much with his life, and he's somewhat addicted to casual sex. When a phone hook-up leads to emotional involvement, Erik's life suddenly has a focus and it gives him more impetus to complete his documentary film project. Handsome, charismatic Lindhardt is well-cast, as a non-native trying to make it in New York. He knows how to express the conflicts within Erik: wanting love, but pursuing an impossible object. He's decisive, tender, petulant and confusing, all at once. Lindhardt is the kind of actor who can do much with small nuances of voice and facial expression.

Unfortunately, Lindhardt is playing opposite a much less compelling character and actor, in Paul (Zachary Booth). This actor gives a professional performance, but Paul is so nearly a non-entity, it's doubtful anyone else could do more with him. He's narcissistic, drug-addled and self-destructive from the start, and he never changes. Erik is narcissistic too, but his character and storyline have more substance. For some viewers, it may be hard to understand why Erik puts up with Paul and returns to him again and again. Lindhardt makes us believe in Erik's obsession, at least most of the time: we don't always want the most appropriate person. One one level, this is a story about the power of sexual attraction, but it's also about the attraction of a 'wounded deer'. Erik thinks that Paul needs him, and that notion is as strong as any to make him continue the relationship.

Also good in the cast is Julianne Nicholson, as Erik's close friend and collaborator. She brings a natural, lived-in quality to their scenes together.

The film opens well, and builds the narrative nicely, until the final third, when it feels slightly disjointed and suffers a bit from a loss of energy. It's nicely shot and has a mostly pleasing music score, highlighted by the song under the opening credits.

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