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233 reviews in total 
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Der Albaner, 28 May 2015

Excellent, well-acted tale concerning an Albanian immigrant who leaves his village for Germany, where he tries to make the money needed to marry his girlfriend back home. Albanian custom dictates that the groom must pay a large dowry to the girl's family before they can wed, and in this case the girl is pregnant, so there is little time to lose. Having no working papers, Arben must really scrounge to make even a small amount of money. He eventually is forced to turn to crime to get what he needs, in order to return to his girl.

During the film, we see this character go through changes, from naive country boy, who can barely figure out how to use a computer, then becoming slowly disillusioned with the world he thought he understood. In the end, he develops a hard edge when things begin to go wrong, and he becomes desperate. When he finally returns to his homeland, things do not go as expected.

Of course this is hardly the first time this kind of tale has been told, but it is important to see and understand what people go through when coming to a new country to make a life for themselves. The world can be so cold and unforgiving for those without money or status. We learn from films like these how basically good people resort to questionable means to survive, because survival is human instinct, and life IS survival. Great movie, and a powerful drama.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Great love story, 18 April 2015

I've seen so few good 'gay-themed' films. "La partida" aka "The Last Match" is one of the great ones. From the director of another excellent film, "Clandestinos," we have a rare instance where gay characters aren't portrayed as ridiculous, clown-like stereotypes. The leads don't wear eyeliner, and they aren't go-go boys who hang out in bars, and they don't have drug problems. Instead we have two leads who are just regular people, who discover that they have a mutual attraction for each other. Living in Cuba, with a wife that supports him financially, Reinier is an avid futbol player, who is hoping to go pro, as a way of escaping a country where freedom does not exist. He also wants to escape the poverty that envelops him and his family and mates. So desperate for a way out, his own mother pushes him towards male prostitution, hoping that her young son will marry a foreigner, and thus give them all a way out of Cuba. Likewise Yosvani is in an unhappy relationship with a female, also supporting him. The two guys figure out that they like each other more than they should, and soon it turns into love. From that point everything and everyone seems set on destroying what the two have found with each other.

This is a sad story. It is romantic in a way that so few movies of this genre are. The two lead actors are great, especially Milton Garcia as Yosvani. He loves his friend in this intense way that we all wish we could be loved. His eyes are so sad, as though he knows from the start, that the love story will never have a happy ending. But he doesn't give up. This guy was brilliant.

Director Antonio Hens has a way of showing his audience a different kind of gay world, one that is free of dumb stereotypes. In "Clandestinos" we have a gay terrorist. And here we have a guy who plays football, and a street thug, who just happen to be attracted to the same sex. Films like this are so important, in that they teach the uninformed that gays are not "freaks," but in many cases completely typical men and women that just happen to be drawn to the same sex. As long as they are portrayed as silly stereotypes, the hatred and prejudice will be perpetuated. We need more cinema like this. It's a great love story, well-made and beautifully written. I recommend this movie as well as "Clandestinos," for people looking for something different.

Haunting Gothic film, 12 April 2015

It's sad that this horror gem is so rare. "The Water Spider" is an incredibly creepy and atmospheric film. And it's storyline is just as obscure and bizarre. A man living in a small village, who has a fascination with insects, finds a small spider by the lake. He places it in his pocket and takes it into his home, unbeknownst to his clingy, overbearing wife. Soon, the tiny spider grows into a big, hairy tarantula, and the man hides it in his continue 'growing.' And grow it does, into a beautiful young woman with long black hair! This girl, who does not speak, becomes the man's secret, until the small minded village folk notice the girl stealing their food in the night, and trace her to the man's home. When the wife figures it out, she leaves her husband to his new "mistress."

That's really it. Little explanation is given as to why this spider transfers into a girl who resembles the beautiful Jess Franco muse, Soledad Miranda. But we find that no explanation is needed, as this movie brings the viewer so effectively into it's strange world, that we just accept it. Another reviewer claimed that there was little dialog, so an understanding of the French language isn't necessary. But actually there is much speaking, and you really need to have an understanding of the language, or subtitles to understand all the nuances and the motivations behind the characters. Unfortunately this title is almost impossible to find, as it was only released briefly, on VHS/PAL format from Belgium. But somehow the grainy, murky quality of the existing version only adds to the haunting look of this beautiful film. Quiet and slow moving, and featuring a gorgeous soundtrack, "Water Spider" is very much like the old horror films from the 1930's. Fans of the surreal, and of classic horror should seek this out. It's worth the effort.

If There Be Thorns (2015) (TV)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The best installment..., 8 April 2015

After the disappointing "Petals On the Wind" production, my expectations for this third chapter of the Dollanganger series, were compromised. But the creators of this latest film mostly redeem themselves, with this creepy, slickly produced story about the "seeds of evil," that are being planted inside Cathy's youngest son, Bart Sheffield. This wonderfully Gothic story deals with the systematic corruption of a child, who already has the blood of a fairly ruthless father. The cold and calculating Bart Winslow was a morally corrupt attorney that Cathy seduces away from her selfish, calculating mother, Corrine.

The creepy old woman who moves into the mansion next door to Cathy, her incestuous brother Chris and their two boys, has a dark secret. Behind the lace veil, Corrine Winslow is hiding, and she is planning on making a play at getting her family back. She is particularly interested in young Bart, and she sees him as the "son that should have been hers." And Bart, alone and awkward, is particularly susceptible to the mysterious woman's attentions. Under the tutelage of Corrine, and her sinister butler, John Amos, Bart is taught a fanatical religious ideology. And the love he has for his mother and father is poisoned by them both.

For a story with such dark tones, Lifetime television actually did a nice job. The film succeeds at being atmospheric and downright creepy. Of course all the usual flaws are present, mainly some of the acting being pretty awful at times, and some dialog is awkward and even preposterous. But the entire film rests on the shoulders of the young actor who plays Bart. This kid is really excellent, and he absolutely elevates this movie to a higher level. His acting abilities are so strong that they make the rest of the cast look bad. They all look the part of course; Cathy and Chris are soap opera-perfect blond dolls, and the actor who plays Jory is gorgeous. Purists will complain that Jory's hair isn't black, like that of his father Julian, but it is a minor issue. Disturbing scenes, like the killing of the dog, and the one with Bart and Cindy by the pool, are not shied away from, which makes this one a bit too intense for very young viewers. Of course a series with the subject of incest is not aimed at young audiences anyway.

"If There Be Thorns" is, so far the best film in the series. Of course my opinion might be biased as this was my personal favorite book in the series. It is also one of the best things Lifetime has ever done. At times this has the look of a theatrical production, and not a TV movie. My enthusiasm for the series has been renewed, and I am looking forward to the final installment, "Seeds of Yesterday." I'm hoping it is as Gothic and as evil as this one.

Julia (1974)
Excellent coming-of-age romantic comedy, 19 March 2015

As a Sylvia Kristel fan, I waited years to view this obscure West German film, as the title is quite rare. But wow, was it worth the wait! This was worlds better than what I was expecting. An erotic film, that attempts the difficult mix of humor and romance...and succeeds on both counts. The story centers on the handsome young student Paulie, on holiday in the gorgeous Swiss Alps, and on a mission to leave his innocence behind, and to become a man. Surrounded by decadent, beautiful older women, but the lovely Andrea (Sylvia Kristel) is the girl that truly captures his heart. Betrayed by a close friend, and later by his own self indulgent prick of a father, Paulie becomes more confused and angry about his situation.

"Julia," titled after the character Juliet, of Shakespeare fame, covers all the bases of coming of age drama; betrayal, sexual frustration, loss of innocence, and both the joy, and sadness that can come from the first sexual experience. Nice surreal touches are included here as well, especially when it focuses on this kid's off-the-wall, wacko family! My side hurt from laughing so much at the absurd situations and predicaments these people find themselves in.

I have to say, I absolutely love this film, the story, the characters/the gorgeous cast, the pretty cinematography and the wonderful artistic touches etc, and especially the bizarre comedic elements which made this a fun experience. There are some powerful emotional scenes too, that I was not expecting, such as the "love" scene filmed inside the Colosseum in Rome! That was heartbreaking, and awful..a betrayal that nobody should ever have to endure. I'm happy to find this gem, and look forward to showing it to friends. Highly recommended..

Wowowow!, 23 February 2015

This rare anime from 1997 is a great re-telling of the Speed Racer tale, with really excellent, beautiful animation and a lot of style. The villains are more evil this time around, and the Mach 5 never looked better! The animation is classic 90's Japanese style, and everyone has those big, wet looking eyes. Go Mifune is an even more handsome bastard now than he was in the 67 version, but I wish they didn't update the look of the 60's Trixie so much; she was a bit cuter before. And Spritle looks like a little demon now, instead of a chubby brat. I can't imagine any fan of the original not having an absolute blast with this 90's remake. I only wish it wasn't so hard to find. There is no excuse for that, especially considering that the wretched "Speed Racer: Next Generation" is so readily available. So far I have tracked down only 13 episodes. Excellent anime that will please fans of the classic show, mainly because it is so respectful of the source material. All "Mach GoGoGo" junkies need to track this one down.

Putrid Garbage, 23 February 2015

Anyone...and I mean ANYONE who has any kind of love and respect for the original "Mach Go Go Go" anime, will find this Lionsgate cartoon to be offensive. It will make your eyes bleed, it is that UGLY, and it will make your brain hurt because it is that nonsensical and stupid. The embarrassing dialog spoken by those flat, antiseptic voices will make your ears bleed. I imagine this project was some kind of a rush job to stir up some kind of interest in the movie, that came out the same year. The live action movie wasn't that good, but it did have some nice artistic touches. The same cannot be said about this awful, American abortion of a cartoon. This is honestly the ugliest looking animation I have ever seen. It is a real insult to the original series. For fans of the original 60's anime, that want more of Speed Racer, just search out the 1997 anime; it is very good stuff; beautiful animation that completely respects the source material. And Lionsgate: How dare you unleash this putrid on the world..

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Primitive fantasy adventure, 17 January 2015

As far as Sword+Sandal flicks go, "Thor the Conqueror" is one of the more 'realistic' movies of the genre. Instead of being pretty, and polished, with elaborate sets and over-styled hair, we get a surprisingly gritty and rough movie, shot totally in some forest, with a very minimalist style. And this is what gives "Thor the Conqueror" a believable edge. Actor Bruno Minniti likewise, is not some huge, steroid ripped pretty guy with perfect hair, but rather a more authentic looking hero. With his slimmer, but ripped build, Thor comes across as a lean and mean fighter, a lot more agile than some huge guy. And rather than make Thor a stereotypical "hero" beyond reproach, he is shown to be rather rough with females, raping, and sometimes killing them with little thought, and no regret. I thought this was a brilliant touch, as who ever imagines a figure like 'Thor' to be a well-behaved gentleman has absolutely no understanding of the Norse Legends. Barbarians, Vikings, were pillagers, rapists, and murderers. They were warriors, and rarely noble. Other people criticized his portrayal, saying that they couldn't sympathize with him. I find that statement very silly.

There was a brilliant Scandinavian director named Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, who created some very realistic Viking films in the 80's. i'm not saying "Thor the Conqueror" is quite in that league, but this strange film reminds me of those movies in the way it is shot in such minimalist style, with crude sets and costumes, and muted colors. On a side note, I was not expecting any romantic content in this movie, but i found the relationship between Thor and Ina to be really nice. As brutal as Thor is with her in the beginning, she finds that she cannot abandon him when his life is threatened by a group of cannibals. she risks her life to rescue him, and from that moment on, the hero of the story develops a new kind of respect and understanding for the opposite sex. I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this obscure, low budget movie..I recommend it to fantasy film lovers who don't need big budget sets and special FX to enjoy a good fantasy tale..

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Surreal picture of innocence, 15 November 2014

Strange, dreamlike film is more a glimpse into the secret, fantasy-laced world of children, than a narrative movie with a story. And "Genesis Children" recreates that brief time like no other film in memory. Filmed in Rome, among the ruins and on the lush seaside, this poetic study of adolescence involves a group of boys, mostly in their teens, and a few younger, who answer an ad posted by a mysterious stranger, about taking part in a play based on a Greek Tragedy. The boys become fast friends, in a way that is only possible at that age. As a group they embark on a series of adventures, through the streets of Rome, into idyllic forests, and mysterious, dark caves, which they explore by torch light. The film is non-linear and random, exactly like the lives of children. The simplest things are laced with symbolism, usually religious in nature. When the oldest boy Jack lifts a loaf of bread above his head and offers it to the others, he becomes somewhat like a 'Jesus figure,' as the other kids take to following his lead. As the film moves forward, their adventures become more tinged with mystery, and danger, and ultimately, violence.

From reading some other comments about this obscure film, it seems that few seemed to grasp what the filmmakers were trying to do. "Genesis Children" is merely showing the difficult journey that we all take at one point, from innocence into adulthood. That journey is usually filled with confusion, frustration, and anger, as well as a natural fear of the unknown. One by one, each boy faces a certain conflict, and this leads to each one letting go of their innocence. In the end, some of the boys suddenly feel uncomfortable with being nude on the beach, while others in the group decide to stay by the sea, living in the primal way that only kids are capable of. I found this movie to be quite brilliant in many ways. The creators obviously have an almost reverent love and respect for this special time, before we must accept responsibility and conform to a fixed schedule. I think most people forget when the only thing they were required to do, was run from one adventure to the next, with no concern about tomorrow. The movie brought back memories for me, of how it felt to be truly free. And any piece of cinema that can do that, has got to be something special. On a side note, I find it profoundly sad to read so many people trashing this movie, based on some beach scenes early in the film, where the kids are swimming and playing while nude. There is not one single frame of this movie where sexuality is even hinted at. The characters didn't even seem to be aware of their being naked, so I have to wonder why it is such a big deal for the audience. I think people need to grow up. I would have no problem letting my own kids watch this film; in fact I believe they would have a deeper understanding of it than many adults. Recommended for fans of directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Derek Jarman, and even Ingmar Bergman. The cinematography brought to mind Jarman's "Sebastion," and the characters are filmed in the same unassuming way that Pasolini photographed his actors in "Arabian Nights." And for some reason I was reminded of the children's film "The Black Stallion," especially the scenes where the little boy bonds with his horse on the desert island. Just don't look for anything vulgar in this movie; you won't find it here..

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Horror porn & art house cult classic, 24 October 2014

As another reviewer said, "Through the Looking Glass" perhaps should not have been filmed as a hardcore feature. However, considering the outrageous subject matter, this is a film that would have a hard time avoiding the X rating..even without penetration scenes.

As far as 'porn films' go, to date i have only seen one other such film that is as good, and that would be Radley Metzger's porn masterpiece "The Image." "Through the Looking Glass," stars the classic beauty, Catharine Burgess, former Vogue model. Sumptuosly filmed in and around a beautiful mansion, Catherine is haunted by something from her past. She insists that there is some malevolent evil living in the house. of course her husband dismisses the idea. She has a beautiful young daughter who, for some reason, she seems to resent. And hidden in a dark attic, is a strange, ornate mirror, that Catherine is drawn to. Sexually frigid with her husband, the icy Catherine saves all her sexual energy for the mirror, which she enjoys masturbating in front of.

As this disturbing tale unfolds we learn the bizarre secrets of the mirror; a mirror that had hung in her bedroom as a young girl, that bared witness to a shocking secret concerning her own father. Adult film regular Jamie Gillis turns in an incredibly sinister performance as the evil, corrupt father. In fact the character that he creates might be the most corrupt, evil character in film history. The father, like this film, is totally amoral, and both might very well make more sensitive viewers feel somewhat sick.

This movie is a definite product of the 70's, and it most likely could not have been made before, or after that decade. "Through the Looking Glass" is obsessed with the subject of incest, and it is displayed here in the most graphic detail. This Gothic horror film culminates with a trip through the mirror, that takes Catherine to Hell, here portrayed as some nightmare of sexual violence and corruption. An early scene at a "mad tea party" had me thinking the whole thing might degenerate into cheap porn territory, but the film gathers momentum, and gets darker, and more disturbing as it reaches it's halfway point. It also gets more artistic, and more beautiful as well. Some might find this a depressing experience, and it definitely is NOT for the casual viewer. But for those with a taste for the surreal, the bizarre, or who just want to see something very different, might want to hunt down this gem. I've seen a lot of stuff from this genre, and nothing comes close to this outrageous piece of art house smut!

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