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93 reviews in total 
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Quint-Cident, 7 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cleverly titled as it is, this is one of those Gunsmokes that feels like a feature film. The plot is so eventful, with detailed character arcs, yet never seems forced and should satisfy any viewer.

Quint, Willa Devlin and Ben Crown are the three main protagonists whose plot lines intersect believably. Willa, a desperately lonely woman offers herself to Quint after he and Matt help her one day. He refuses and, later when she is raped (a word never uttered in Dodge) by Ben, she accuses Quint, who is also tormented by a racist rancher.

The story is a commentary on racism, loneliness and criminality, all in 50-odd minutes. It's also beautifully shot, using great locations, and extremely well-acted, in particular by movie great Ben Johnson and the underrated Mary LaRoche A top episode of the superb Season 8

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Terrifying Shark movie, 30 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"In the Deep" is just simply a terrifying shark movie. It spends very little time on character development early on, and gets to its point quickly. This is a shark attack movie that really delivers. Not so much in terms of gore or violence, but at the level of stark fear and dread.

Actors all do fine jobs, with no real standouts, and the main players convey a very believable feeling of terror. We feel we are underwater, very deep underwater, in a terrifying world where sharks rule the day.

Among recent serious shark shockers, I'd rate "In the Deep" just below "The Reef" (simply horrifying) for sheer shark terror, and a little above "The Shallows" (a good film, but this one out-scares it)

"Of Past Regret and Future Fear", a memorable episode, 7 June 2016

I had only seen this episode once, in first broadcast and had always remembered it, and seeing it again has not diminished its strength. A young security guard is accidentally doused with a highly toxic substance (hydrochloric acid). He is rushed to the ER, and soon told by Dr. Greene that he will die in a matter of hours. The actor Michael Rapaport gives an award-worthy performance, as he slowly realizes and begins to accept his fate. It's a powerful moment in a series full of powerful moments, but one that can really stick with you. A moment's mistake or carelessness can mean the end of everything, in very little time. Carol's efforts to bring the man's ex-wife and daughter in to see him are in vain, as grudges and anger won't loosen their grip. So the man dies while Carol reads back the letter he writes to his daughter. The rest of the plot lines, interesting though they are, pale in comparison to this small unforgettable story.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
No One Really Knew Her, 4 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ironically titled, beautifully shot and well-acted, this is a real 'sleeper' from late in the Golden Age of Italian cinema. Stefania Sandrelli perfectly embodies the naive girl from the provinces who wants to be a star. We never know what she can do well, apart from be charming and look terrific. But she believes there is a place for her in the firmament of the entertainment industry. Adriana gets to live only on the edge of the life she thinks she wants (nice apartment, clothes, wigs, parties, making money from sexual favors or modeling). From the start, she is taken advantage of by 'agents' or others who claim to be helping her. The numerous men she encounters are mostly ciphers themselves. Their only advantage is that they understand the ruthless nature of their world. Adriana is just their latest victim. One charmer skips out in the early morning from a hotel encounter, leaving Adriana stuck with the bill. Another, after a sexual episode, asks her to call another girl for him. In a brilliantly cringing scene, poor Adriana is humiliated in front of friends, as her long-awaited 'film debut' only serves to use her for comic fodder.

The film uses flashback to fill in Adriana's past: she was a normal, if very pretty, girl whose family has already nearly forgotten her. Like many of her kind, she craves the "love" that stardom should bring. As often with serious Italian film, the outcome is pessimistic.

Director Pietrangeli paces the film well and integrates the brief flashbacks to telling effect. Locations are well-used and often beautifully photographed. The film can occasionally remind a viewer of Robert Bresson's work: much faster paced, and with a higher energy level, but with a similar outlook on youth and the harshness of contemporary life. I'd go as far to say if this film had been directed by Bresson, it would be far better known. The international view of Italian cinema at the time was dominated by Fellini, Antonioni and a few others, while Pietrangeli, Monicelli and many fine film makers remain to be re-discovered. Here is a great place to start that re- discovery.

8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A Better, though imperfect gay-themed film, 24 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

4th Man Out has a lot going for it. Well-written dialog, with a real sense of humor. Good acting from an appealing and attractive cast. An unusual and effective location. It's definitely worth a look for anyone interested in the so-called 'sub genre' of gay-themed movies. And for these reasons, it's far superior to many of its predecessors.

Evan Todd as "Adam", the main character, does a fine job of conveying the anxiety of someone in his position. It's a situation many of us can identify with. And it's treated in way consistent with the time period (current) and location (upstate NY, i.e. not San Francisco, NYC or Boston). Adam and his friends are in their late 20s and all have (or think they have) pretty open-minded views about homosexuality, but when Adam announces he's gay it still creates some ripples in their little network. Because the characters are pretty well drawn -- Adam and best friend Chris (played by Parker Young) in particular-- it's hard to condemn any of them for not immediately and fully embracing their friend's news. It takes them a while. Yes, this is not taking place 30 years ago, so we can think they should have no problems. But they do love Adam as a friend and eventually they all come around. The film balances the awkwardness and initial homophobia pretty well, with no really mean-spirited humor. Adam's parents are also well presented, with expected surprise (or lack of it) and acceptance through love.

The single big drawback in 4th Man Out is a dating montage sequence for Adam. He signs on to a gay dating site, or phone app and is quickly barraged with interested parties (he's very good-looking and charming). The problem with the sequence is that it trades in too many stereotypes. The one likely candidate gets as far as a pretty hot make-out session with Adam, but it's ruined by a crass event that seems out of place and unnecessary. Too bad, but this does not spoil the entire film.

See it for the attractive (yet realistic) cast, genuine humor and an engaging story mostly well-told

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.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
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)
4 out of 4 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.

4 out of 6 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.

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