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6/10
A director comes up against a monster
25 August 2019
Your heart really breaks for Hugo Haas as he confronts "The Other Woman" in this B film also starring Cleo Moore. Lance Fuller, and John Qualen.

Moore plays a would-be actress who couldn't act her way out of phone booth with the door open. When she fails miserably with three lines, the director (Haas) replaces her. An angry and deeply disturbed woman, she decides to destroy him and sets him up for blackmail.

After suckering Walter Darman (Haas) into giving her a ride home, Sherry (Moore) slips him a mickey. The next morning he has lipstick on his face and shirt, and Moore is acting as if they had a night of fun. And she makes sure her friend (Lance Fuller) stops by to see Darman there. All part of the plan.

Sherry later claims to be pregnant and wants $50,000. Darman is sure she is lying, that nothing happened, but she calls and visits his office frequently, putting on the pressure.

Hugo Haas and Cleo Moore made I think seven films together, B movies, and made a good team. Haas in his native Czechoslovakia wa a well-known actor until he had to flee the Nazis. He continued acting in the states but also became a writer and director, specializing in these B noirs.

Cleo, a blond sexpot in the Monroe tradition, has the street-wise femme fatale down and looks fantastic. Married at one time to Huey Long's son, she actually ran for Governor of Louisiana in 1956 (a publicity stunt).

Moore quit movies in 1961 when she married a multimillionaire. She certainly was a better actress than the character she played. Sadly, she died young and didn't live to see the cult status she achieved in the '80s, which continues.

All in all, like other Haas films, entertaining.
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The Guilty (1947)
4/10
good twin/bad twin
25 August 2019
From 1947, "The Guilty" is a film noir starring Bonita Granville, Don Castle, Regis Toomey, John Litel, and Wally Cassell.

This is strictly poverty row, Monogram. Bonita Granville plays twins, Linda and Estelle. One is sweet and the other is a vamp. I had a hard time figuring out who was who.

Castle and Cassell play roommates Mike and Johnny. Johnny is the nervous type. When the sweet twin is killed, Johnny is sure he will be blamed and makes himself seem guilty by acting like such a wreck.

This movie is dry as a bone. Castle is one of those stereotypical B movie tough guys who talks out of one side of his mouth. Granville was always a good actress, but the twins' characters aren't well fleshed-out and I'm sure she had no time to work on differences between them. By the way, her husband, Jack Wrather, produced this, and if you're a baby boomer, you know that Bonita Granville Wrather produced the Lassie series.

Regis Toomey plays the detective, and he's pretty one note. He and Castle sounded like they were imitating hard-boiled detectives.

What bothered me is that we knew before we even saw Estelle and Linda that the two were identical twins. So Estelle keeping her back to Linda while she was talking to her in the beginning was a big waste of time.

When she walks out to face her sister, she does it in a grand way, like the audience should be surprised that she looks like Linda. The Castle narration mentions TWICE that they're lookalikes beforehand. Not very well done.
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8/10
small noir, very absorbing
24 August 2019
"Night Has a Thousand Eyes" from 1948 is a real gem of a noir starring Edward G. Robinson, Gail Russell, John Lund, William Demarest, Jerome Cowan, Virginia Bruce, and Charles Bickford.

Part of the story is told in flashback - in the first scene, Jean (Russell) tries to kill herself and is saved by her fiancee (John Lund). They meet Triton (Robinson) in a restaurant, and when talking with them, he gives them his background - which involved both of Jean's parents (Cowan and Bruce). Together, they had a mind-reading act.

Triton begins to get disturbing visions, sometimes on-stage, even at one point telling an audience member to leave because her son is in danger. Turns out, he was. These visions disturb him terribly, and he leaves the act and his two partners behind. They marry and have Jean.

Now he has come to believe that Jean is in danger of being murdered, and he is desperate to stop her. The police don't believe several of his predictions that came true - they think he is in collusion with someone - until one event convinces them that he may be onto something.

Really terrific film with a short running time of 77 minutes. This film was made four years after "The Uninvited," and Gail Russell looks to have aged ten years, her alcoholism already becoming acute. She is still lovely.

Robinson is wonderful as a confused man who doesn't understand why he has a "gift" if it's not doing any good.

Written by Cornell Woolrich, who wrote "Rear Window."

HIghly recommended. I love movies like this!
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6/10
good, from a story by H.G. Wells
23 August 2019
Jon Hall is an "Invisible Agent" in this 1942 films, from a story by H.G. Wells. The film also stars Ilona Massey, Peter Lorre, J. Edward Bromberg, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Wells was also responsible for the "Invisible Man" series from Universal.

During WW II, Frank Raymond (Hall) injects himself with a serum, invented by his grandfather, that renders him invisible. He parachutes into Germany on behalf of the Americans. He goes to the home of a well-connected woman (Massey) and listens in on her dinner conversation with a Reich member (Bromberg).

Raymond has a little too much fun ruining the meal, and it doesn't take a Germans after the formula, led by Conrad Stauffer (Hardwicke) to hear his story and realize the Invisible Agent is in their midst. Raymond, however, is not easy to catch and causes plenty of chaos.

Fun movie with fun effects. Too bad handsome Jon Hall was invisible for most of the film.
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7/10
a pianist escapes from war-torn Czechoslovakia during WW II
23 August 2019
After playing Smetna's Maldau in Czechoslovakia, and accused of inciting anti-German feelings, pianist Jan Volny finds himself running from the Nazis in "Voice in the Wind" from 1944. This is a rarity - it's an independent film at a time when very few were made, due to the power of the movie studios.

Volny is tortured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp; however, he overpowers his captors and later boards a ship for Guadalupe. There he is known as El Hombre -- he has amnesia and remembers nothing of his past.

His wife, whom he left in the care of a friend in Czechoslovakia, finally lands in Guadalupe as well, but she is quite ill. She hears El Hombre playing the piano and realizes that it is Jan.

Very sad and depressing but full of heart and the human spirit.
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The Unseen (1945)
6/10
okay mystery
22 August 2019
Unlike what some sites say, "The Unseen" has nothing to do with "The Uninvited," which also starred Gail Russell. I suspect Paramount was just trying to get more traction out of the success of that movie. The Unseen also stars Joel McCrea, Herbert Marshall, Isobel Elsom, and Norman Lloyd.

Russell plays Elizabeth, the new governess for the two young children of a widower (David Fielding). The film begins with a murder being committed outside their house, and the victim drops her watch. When Elizabeth arrives, the murder has made the front page of the paper, and people are nervous.

Odd things go on, mostly having to do with the young boy, Barnaby, who makes mysterious phone calls, seems to have more money than he should, and also unlocks the door for someone every night. Meanwhile the house next door has been boarded up for 12 years, adding to a tense and mysterious atmosphere.

This movie is disjointed, with zero character development and rather surprising things not questioned or pursued, almost as if parts of the script was missing.

It's hard to watch the beautiful Gail Russell and realize the downward turn her life was already taking. Lots of sad Hollywood stories, but I'd put hers, Susan Peter's, and Sharon Tate's on top. Unlike Tate and Peters, though, Russell never intended to be an actress. Her beauty didn't go unnoticed once her family arrived in California, and they desperately needed the money a contract would bring. She was too nervous and fragile, and by the age of 36, she was dead from acute alcoholism.

Russell is much stronger as an actress that she was in The Uninvited - it's also a more forceful kind of role. However, it's obvious she's grown from experience after doing several films. McCrea is rather stiff (it's just that kind of role). He probably had to take the role to fulfill his contract.

I saw a bad print so the end was like watching a black screen, but I had the goings-on figured out - too many years of watching this type of film.
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7/10
Psychiatry takes a front seat
22 August 2019
"Lady in the Dark" from 1944 is an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, which starred Gertrude Lawrence and made a star out of Danny Kaye. Mischa Auer, Jon Hall, Ray Milland, and Gail Russell. Auer is in Kaye's role, and his show-stopping number, "Tchaikovsky" was cut.

Actually, the music in this version is incidental to the film. Ginger Rogers plays Liza, the editor of a fashion magazine. She sees a doctor because of headaches and inability to concentrate. He sends her to a psychiatrist (Barry Sullivan).

Psychology and psychiatry really hit their stride during World War II for obvious reasons. Though "Lady in the Dark" is dated in its views toward women, the unraveling of Liza's psyche through musical dreams is very entertaining.

Ginger Rogers is spectacular - a beautiful actress and dancer, she radiates light in her gorgeous gowns, which belie her normal non-dream office attire. She gives a touching performance of a conflicted, unhappy woman who can't embrace life but doesn't understand why.

Ray Milland is charming and funny as Charley, Liza's office nemesis, and Mischa Auer as the temperamental photographer is excellent. Jon Hall and Warner Baxter are very good, but their characters don't have the development of the other roles.

Probably the 1954 Lady in the Dark starring Ann Sothern is better and truer to the show. This Lady is worth seeing for Ginger.
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Small Island (2009)
10/10
beautiful drama
14 August 2019
Lovely miniseries from 2009 starring Ruth Wilson, Naomie Harris, David Oyelowo, Roger Sloman, Ashley Walters, Benedict Cumberbatch.

The film begins right before World War II. Hortense (Wilson) and Michael (Walters) are Jamaicans who were raised together though not related. Hortense always assumed they would marry, but when she sees Michael kissing a married woman, she freaks. However, she never let go of the fantasy.

In order to get to London, though, which is her dream, she marries Gilbert (Oyelowo), another Jamaican. Once in England, they learn the hard lessons about the racism prevalent in the "mother country" and endure struggles.

The parallel story is that of Queenie and Bernard, both British - Bernard proposes and Queenie, not sure of her feelings, takes a chance and accepts. His father, shell-shocked from WW I, lives with them. When Bernard leaves for the service, Queenie meets Michael and falls for him. Meanwhile, she rents out rooms to Hortense and Gilbert. Thus, the two stories come together.

Someone wrote that "Small Island" draws you in - that's a great description. The characters are vivid, their stories poignant, and we care deeply about them.

It is so well made, and a beautiful story of lives intertwining and living through war and prejudice...and learning about love and friendship.
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6/10
annoying
9 August 2019
I love Melvyn Douglas, I love Virginia Bruce, and I love screwball comedy.

However, in "There's That Woman Again," the Bruce character annoyed me for some reason. Her antics just seemed so ridiculous. Her husband (Douglas) seemed ready to kill her, and I could understand it.

There were some funny parts. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right kind of mood.
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7/10
Interesting character
8 August 2019
Derrick De Marney stars in "Meet Mr. Callaghan" from 1954.

It's the story of a detective (de Marney) who survives job to job. He is approached by a wealthy woman, Cynthis (Harriette Johns) who needs his help. It's a slightly convoluted story, having to do with her stepfather's will, and another will he apparently hid.

Callaghan isn't a favorite of Inspector Gringall (Trevor Reid) so when a murder occurs, and Callaghan is able to supply Cynthis' alibi, Gringall is all over him and it.

Callaghan seems unconventional and a little bit borderline as far as the law, but we soon learn he's very clever and a step ahead of the police.

Derrick de Marney is fantastic as Slim Callaghan, with is crisp responses and a laid-back, never flustered approach. He really makes the film.

Very enjoyable British B that keeps you interested.
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5/10
kind of a mess
7 August 2019
I love the British B noirs, but some of them are confusing - huge plot holes and a story that doesn't make sense.

A young woman, Barbara Cummings (Rona Anderson) comes back to the family estate after the suicide of her father - if that's what it was. When the will is read, she inherits everything rather than it going to his business partner, where it was supposed to go initially. It's suggested by the solicitor that she continue to help the children's charity -- her father has left it 500 pounds, and she suggests that part of her home can go to house children.

Well here's where it gets a little dicey. People are trying to kill her, having something to do with drugs. Somehow the head of this charity is involved. I admit I lost track. The business partner is involved as well, taking orders from someone who wants Barbara set up to be killed during a shooting party.

Terence Fisher was a marvelous director. He really paid his dues with this one.

Stanley Baker has a small part as a devoted albeit slow servant, and tall, distinguished Guy Rolfe is a family friend who has romantic designs on the heroine.

This is the type of thriller where the ends don't all join up.What we know for certain from the very beginning is that Alan Wheatley is the murderer,simply because this is the role that he plays in nearly every film.However what is not quite as clear is why he is doing in all and sundry.We have Stanley Baker in a very early role playing a servant who is prepared to go to any lengths to protect his mistress.However there are too many unanswered questions.Like what is funny old Peter Jones doing in a role of a hit-man.Why is Alan Wheatley the head of a children's charity and a drug dealer at the same time.I could raise many points like this but none have a satisfactory answer.Thankfully it only lasts just over an hour so not much chance of getting bored.
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Blackout (1950)
5/10
so-so British B
5 August 2019
A murder in "Blackout," a 1950 B also starring Dinah Sheridan.

Reed plays a blind man awaiting surgery for his condition. One night, he asks to go to a certain address, and the driver makes a mistake bringing him to the square with the street name and not the gardens with the same name. Therefore, he walks into the wrong house and nearly trips over a dead body.

The killers are still in the house but, realizing he's blind, knock him out and put him out on the street. When he regains consciousness, no one believes his story.

Somewhat convoluted. The Reed character regains his sight and sets out to solve the murder.

Truthfully, I either became confused or I stopped paying attention.

I will say that Maxwell Reed was quite the hunk in the Dirk Bogarde tradition, though not nearly as good an actor.

He was, however, a matinee idol for a short time and has the distinction of being Joan Collins' first husband. At the time, he was her favorite actor.
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Recoil (1953)
6/10
British B
5 August 2019
Recoil is one of those British B's I love so much. This one stars Kieron Moore and Elizabeth Sellars.

A woman (Sellars) poses as a crook in order to get evidence against the jewel thief who killed her father.

Pretty good - something about Sellars reminded me of Jackie O, around the eyes.

Good acting, interesting story.
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No Trace (1950)
6/10
love these British films
2 August 2019
"No Trace" from 1950 is about a mystery novelist (Hugh Sinclair) who finds himself being blackmailed about his past and murders the blackmailer. His secretary (Dinah Sheridan) sets out to solve the mystery of the man's murder.

I love these English B mysteries. It was fun to see The Fugitive's Barry Morse here as a young investigator and speaking with a British accent - he didn't on his most famous role, Lt. Gerard on The Fugitive.

My only problem with this film is I don't understand how the Sheridan character felt any affection for her boss, a cold, arrogant man.
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Bond of Fear (1956)
6/10
No way would I have ever recognized John Colicos
1 August 2019
It wasn't until the end of "Bond of Fear" that I remembered John Colicos was listed in the cast and realized who he was. Wow.

Dermot Walsh plays a dad taking his family on a trip in a caravan (trailer) when a wanted criminal, Dewar (Colicos) takes over the trip, keeping the son in the caravan with him, gun in tow, and ordering Walsh not to turn him in.

This I think was one of those "quota" films done in Britain, and I found it absorbing and well acted. The little boy was a riot. He tells Dewar, "I said a prayer for you." Dewar asks, what did you pray for? The boy says, "I won't tell you. It's horrible."
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Yesterday (III) (2019)
7/10
what if no one remembered the Beatles?
29 July 2019
This is a cute and harmless film, courtesy of Danny Boyle.

The story concerns an aspiring musician, Jack Malik (Hamish Patel) who is discouraged about his lack of career and decides to quit. As he's on his way home, there's a worldwide blackout for something like 12 seconds. Danny plows into a bus and winds up in the hospital.

He soon realizes that the blackout wiped out a few parts of our culture - cigarettes, Coca Cola, and the Beatles. Jack seems to be the only person in the world who remembers the Fab Four. He starts singing Beatles songs as his own creations and becomes an international star.

The story is about what we all have in common and what happens if it's taken away - we lose that little piece that keeps us linked. It's also about a nightmare suffered by famous actors, musicians, artists, and writers - what happens when people realize I'm a fake? Many famous people, when their work is appreciated, feel like frauds.

In Jack's case, of course, he is one. As he gets ready for his first album, all the people and success start to get to him. And it's causing him to lose his girlfriend (Lily James).

I think another point here is that if the Beatles hadn't existed, we would have had to invent them. Their contribution to our world and our music is incredible. This is a fun film; don't look for Citizen Kane.
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Charité at War (2019– )
8/10
Germany in WW II - no picnic
28 July 2019
"Charite at War" covers the German hospital during World War II.

The film focuses on Anni (Mala Emde), her doctor husband Arthur (Artjom Gilz), the brilliant surgeon Sauerbruch, and Anni's brother (Otto Jannik Schumann), an in-the-closet gay. Given Rule 175, homosexuals who were caught were arrested and worse.

The group at the hospital reflects the differing views of citizens under Hitler's restrictions, some of whom display delusional thinking. Artur works with disabled children who are wards of the state as he works to develop a new vaccine. These children are eventually sent to another hospital, where Artur believes the children receive treatment, though the truth is, they are exterminated.

Sauerbruch goes along with Hitler's restrictions, but he believes he has a duty to all patients, and that includes Jews. He himself spoke to the Minister of Justice to end the extermination of children - and believes it is no longer happening.

Anni is a would-be doctor studying with Sauerbruch. Anni is comfortable that she and Artur have the correct genes. However, their new baby, Karin, possibly has hydrocephalus. This means she has to be reported and transferred, and that they may be sterilized. Instead, they treat the baby at home and then appeal to Sauerbruch for help. She and Artur face a crisis in their beliefs and in their marriage.

Otto falls in love with a male attendant at the hospital. There is a young nurse after him, who presses him for a commitment before he leaves for the service. When she doesn't get it, trouble ensues.

A cruel doctor accuses soldiers in the infirmary of faking their illness or wounded themselves, and they are sent for execution.

Meanwhile Germany is losing the war, and everyone hopes it will be over soon. Nobody seems to like Hitler. Sauerbruch thinks he's crazy. But they all live with terror.

Toward the end of the film, we see what Hitler sent out to fight - teenage boys. Pathetic.

An interesting cross-section of those who are secret spies and just plain keeping secrets as they try to get through their lives and survive Hitler.

"Charite at War" is depressing, and we see how the German people suffered. Toward the end of the war, there was no water, no supplies at the hospital, nothing, as doctors use liquor to sterilize their hands and anesthetize the patients.

And that's what happens when someone tells you that some people are superior to others, and anything that goes wrong with the country is the fault of these lesser people.

I'd say never forget, but it seems as though we have.
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6/10
Jane in those blond years
27 July 2019
Jane Wyman stars as an aggressive detective driving her fiance police detective Dick Foran nuts in "Private Detective" from 1939. The film also stars Dick Foran and Maxie Rosenbloom.

The story concerns the murder of a man (John Eldredge) who has won custody of his son after a court fight with his wife (Mona Dickson). She's a suspect, but there are others. The Wyman character is determined to find out whodunit.

Wyman was no less of a good actress when she became a brunette, but the roles she got were different. I absolutely love her as a blond, always have, and she seemed to get feistier roles that were more fun. Just an opinion. She was quite a talent - she could sing, act, and was a fine artist.

Fun, fast film, o the short side but that is perfect for a film of this type.
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3/10
so ridiculous
21 July 2019
I'm no genius, but I knew this entire story before even watching it.

Brenda Strong's character was very resourceful. She's very pretty and for what this was, a decent actress.

Horrendous.
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Female Fiends (1958)
4/10
lousy B
16 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This British director was known for quota films, i.e., quick ones to meet the British cinema requirement. "Strange Awakening" from 1958 is one of these. But it's a British B movie and I can't resist them.

The film stars Lex "Tarzan" Barker, a tall, blond, and handsome American actor, who is attacked by a hitchhiker and wakes up in a hospital with no I.D. and no memory. He finds out that he is Gordy Friend, the ne'er-to-do-well son of a wealthy man who has just died a month earlier. He finds out that he lives in a huge mansion in the Nice/Cannes area, has a wife, a sister, and a mother.

It's a little suspicious because in the first scene, the guy's wife, Iris, leaves on a trip. So we know this is a set-up from the beginning.

It drags its way to an incomplete end. I mean, we know why he is impersonating Gordy, but that's about it. He knows his real name but does he remember who he is? And what about poor Iris? There is no indication that this character regains his memory.

The acting isn't bad - Nora Swinburne, Lisa Gastoni, and Carole Mathews acquit themselves well. Barker wasn't much of an actor. He was a popular Tarzan and later on became a huge star in Germany, where he eventually made his home. Never let it be said Arlene Dahl and Lana Turner didn't know a handsome face when they saw one - they were both married to him.
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10/10
Two legends come together in an old-fashioned love story
15 July 2019
Robert Redford and Jane Fonda - two of the biggest names in film history - have been a wonderful partnership on film since their first film together 50+ years ago. They reunite here in "Our Souls at Night" from 2017, and they're as delightful as ever.

It's the story of a widow, Addie (Fonda) and widower (Redford), neighbors --two lonely people who make a connection. It's not really a love connection at first -- it's more of a reaching out and communicating. Eventually Louis (Redford) becomes involved in helping out with Addie's grandson, Jamie and they slowly become entwined in each other's lives.

This isn't a fast-moving CGI film with cartoon characters. These are real people in their twilight years who in a way are still finding themselves and find one another.

Fonda gives an amazing performance - having seen her in Book Club and Grace & Frankie - this is no old lady. Yet for this role, she walks like she's older and at times seems a little doddering. And believe it or not, at 80 years old, it's an act! In Book Club, her boyfriend was Don Johnson, and in Grace & Frankie, it's Peter Gallagher, nearly 20 years her junior.

Nevertheless, she and Redford are perfectly suited to one another and make a beautiful couple. This is a sweet, thoughtful film. It's for my generation. I loved it.
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Safe (2018)
8/10
Not sure what the problem is
14 July 2019
I'm a bit confused, and perhaps I need to stop watching anything.

First of all, I'm a sucker for British mystery, suspense, anything. I've seen thousands , from Hammer B movies to Masterpiece Theater ad infinitum. I am going out on a limb and saying I really enjoyed this. It concerns a teenage girl who goes missing after a party, and one by one, neighbors in a gated community are connected to it. I thought it was very well done.

From the reviews I read on this site, the general feeling seemed to be (1) it was a soap opera; (2) the acting was bad and one-dimensional; and (3) Michael C. Hall's attempt at a British accent was laughable.

First off, it was a miniseries, and because it continued from episode to episode, it had some soap opera elements. I didn't mind that. I found it suspenseful and intriguing. A few people said they weren't sure if it was a drama or a comedy. That is because there were a few segments that were dark comedy. Again, before today, I didn't know drama could not have any comedy in it and vice versa.

I have no understanding -NONE - of how anyone can say with a straight face, given their impressive list of credits, that Michael C. Hall, Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren, and Audrey Fleurot - all of whom I've seen do other things - can't act, are one dimensional, or bad. Ridiculous.

Okay, Michael C. Hall's accent. I've been to England, I have British friends, I watch enormous amounts of British shows -- and I fail to see what was wrong with his accent except that he didn't sound like Dexter.

At first I thought the people complaining were actually Brits - my sister lived in England, came home with a British accent, and her friends in England were still teasing her about her American accent - so they hear something we don't. But no. Sorry, I would love for someone to tell me what was wrong with his voice.

Anyway, I thought this was good, compelling, and kept me interested.
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Zen (2011)
8/10
wow
11 July 2019
All can say is, Rufus Sewell - hubba hubba.

Wow - Zen is a marvelous series about a Venetian police detective, Zen, played by Sewell. He works in Rome and is known for scrupulous honesty and incorruptibility. Because of this, he is often approached by officials to take care of politically uncomfortable situations. When he does, in return, he asks for a favor.

Though it was made in 2011, the show doesn't rely on DNA, computers, forensics, though they might play into the plot. They have cell phones and that's about it.

Filmed in Rome, it is absolutely stunning to look at, with the actors impeccably dressed, especially Sewell. Caterina Murino, who plays the boss' secretary, is beautiful and does a nice job as a conflicted woman.

But let's talk about Sewell. First off, the man is gorgeous and with that soft-spoken voice, you could faint. He's very sexy. I wish he would play James Bond. I'd run to the theater. Zen is cool under pressure and never gives away what he's thinking. He manages to do what he's been asked to do and keep it above-board, even if he's unconventional.

I didn't read the reviews but I imagine there's something somewhere about the British accents in Italy. Well, they're not speaking English with an Italian accent. They are speaking Italian. It's an old acting convention. Otherwise, Chekov plays would be done with Russian accents.

Very good. Wish there were more episodes.

Unfortunately there were only three episodes so it's unclear if this was a miniseries or supposed to be a series - it was nicely wrapped up.
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Four Days (1951)
6/10
okay if some of the action isn't always clear
11 July 2019
"Four Days" from 1951 is one of those British B movies that I love. You can tell the film was made in probably the four days of the title, but there are some interesting camera shots and one great fight.

Hugh McDermott plays Francis, a man whose business is in trouble; as a result, he's been neglecting his wife Lucienne (Kathleen Byron). A ne'er do well, Johnny (Peter Reynolds), one of her husband's employees, has been making time with her.

When Francis returns unexpectedly from a successful trip to America, he catches Johnny and Lucienne together. Johnny's been forging company checks, and looming over him is the fact that Francis now will certainly turn him in. Panicked, Lucienne spikes Francis' brandy with pills. It's not a success. The next day, Francis attempts suicide and when he comes to, he doesn't remember anything of the previous four days.

Well, here's a man whose built his company from nothing. He's just made an important deal that will return them to earlier success and, finding the wife he's been ignoring has a boyfriend, decides to throw himself off of a cliff. Odd. I found it odd.

One of the reasons it was unclear to me I guess is because I'm dense or maybe the attempted murder scene threw me off. Johnny is also going to drink brandy until Francis signals him not to. He then knocks Francis' glass from his hand. Francis in turn has a fit and throws the brandy decanter across the room. I admit I thought he was angry with Johnny but I guess he did realize that Francis was trying to kill him.

The other thing that was a little curious to me was that Lucienne was ready to leave this guy and suddenly she hates Johnny and is madly in love with her husband again.

Someone said the film could have been great if it had ended earlier - I actually could have used a little more development.

Nevertheless, the acting was fine - Byron went on to have a very important role in Black Narcissus and worked into the 20th Century. Not a great beauty, she nevertheless has a compelling look. McDermott went on to character roles - here, he is very dapper.
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Youth (I) (2015)
8/10
Youth - it's about aging.
9 July 2019
Youth is a beautifully and thoughtfully made film by Paul Sorrentino - about aging. Caine and Keitel are two old men, best friends, staying in a fancy Swiss hotel for the summer.

Fred Ballinger (Caine) is a famous conductor/composer, now retired, and Keitel is a film director, Mick Boyle, who is working on his film while at the hotel, putting the script together with the actors who will appear in it. Ballinger's daughter (Weisz) is her father's assistant, and she is staying with him.

An emissary for Queen Elizabeth visits Ballinger to ask him to conduct his own composition, Simple Songs, for Prince Philip's birthday. He refuses. That portion is based on a situation with Ricardo Muti, who could not agree with the Queen on repertoire and ultimately refused to conduct a concert.

Michael Caine gives a great performance as a man who feels his life is over. He comes off as being much more fragile than we usually see him, even at his age. He has some very funny dialogue. Harvey Keitel is wonderful as a man going forward, feeding off the energy of the young actors with whom he is working. Rachel Weisz as Lena is heartfelt as a woman who has both anger and love for her father. I saw her on stage - she's so stunning it's ridiculous.

The scenery and the music are flawless.

I can't say much more about this film - you either get it or you don't. It's about aging, how you choose to deal with it, love, looking back, looking forward, memories, and one other big thing - youth.
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