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Parfum (2018– )
9/10
worth a binge
2 January 2019
I have not read the novel Parfum, so I have no way of knowing if it's an attempt at an adaptation. I it doubt since the novel is such an integral part of the plot. Props for atmosphere and acting here. I watched it with subtitles and heard it with English dubbing. At times, the subtitles and dubbing were using rather different ways of saying the same thing. Kind of fascinating. It was a good mystery/crime story and the writers made use of the multi-episodes to gradually reveal a bit more of the mystery. I found it difficult to tell the boys apart when they were younger (exception being Toothless) and couldn't quite figure out who was really Elena's boyfriend back in the day. The writers made good use of flashbacks.
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2/10
Kind of a waste of time. I expected more from Netflix
31 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The beginning set us up for some creepiness; the glasses, the contacts, the water to wash them. Maybe there was already something supernatural going on. A fatherless son and widowed mother in the bowels of grief. In the woods. Unfortunately there was just no payoff for the rather good beginning. The writers must have sat in a room tossing out lines and characters with no consideration for overall plot.
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7/10
Can't say it's funny -- best viewed as a documentary
25 June 2016
I had no idea what this was about -- I was just going with a group of friends to a movie a couple of them wanted to see. I love stand up comedy, improv, skits etc. But this isn't a comedy. It's a capture of a piece of history. If they did a movie about the history of stripping, you'd expect to see good and bad stripping scenes, but you wouldn't have the expectation that you'd be seeing porn. Very similar with this movie. It's not comedy. It's the history of a joke (The Aristocrats) and the seeming fact that every comedian knows the joke and has their version to tell. The documentary was cut as well as it could be to hold interest -- after all, we're sitting through a huge number of variations of the same joke. Personally I would have liked to see each comedian identified each time they appeared on the screen.
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9/10
Good adaptation of O'Hara short story -- avoid the Dollar Store copy
14 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
For some reason, someone took two Great Performances and merged them into one video. That stories are totally unrelated and it's confusing to watch. Trash bin that one.

Get a copy of the original Natica Jackson -- about 60 minutes long. Good to great performances from Michele Pfeifer (post Scarface but pre super stardom), Brian Kerwin (misspelled as Brain on the Dollar Store video but correctly spelled otherwise), Holland Taylor, and Hector Elizondo.

It's fairly faithful to the original short story written by John O'Hara. Which is surprising given the ending which predated Susan Smith by at least 30 years.

Worth watching despite not being able to locate a really good copy. The ones I've seen all seem to be copied from bad VHS tapes.
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Wolves (2014)
7/10
THis is quite an engaging flick
19 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a pretty decent werewolf flick. Starts off right away with some violence on the football field. Our hero wakes up after aborted sex with his cheerleader girlfriend to find himself covered in blood. His? His girlfriends? He naturally calls for his parents.

At this point, I was expecting the adult werewolf parents to spring the surprise of their heritage on their son.

No, decent plot twist, and off our hero goes, collecting clues to his identity.

He matures as he goes along, but you can see his parents values of hard work and defense of women have a strong influence.

I thought the fight scenes were well choreographed; the makeup was quite nicely done; the storyline was believable and made your cheer for our hero and true love.

Good script; good acting; good editing. An enjoyable time to be had.
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Carver (2008 Video)
8/10
Well this film is certainly underrated as horror
3 September 2015
I'm pretty surprised at the low over rating this film has given its ability to scare the crapola out of you.

Other than a sense that this is a video and not a film, it deserves kudos for atmosphere, a build of suspense, a surprise ending, and loads of gore.

I didn't feel as though I was viewing a horror film with a predictable plot or characters.

This film deserves a lot of respect. It is creepy, the actors, although certainly not known, are good actors. I didn't feel as though the lines or the acting was forced. The only character I felt was almost a bit comedic was the bar owner but you see that in a lot of horror films.

Like Night of the Living Dead, the Ring, 6th Sense, this film brings a fresh perspective of horror.
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Citizen X (1995 TV Movie)
8/10
Quite a good film with a bit of stereotyping
23 July 2015
Well now that Russians have been living in the US for generations, it's difficult to accept some of the stereotypes in this movie -- all Russian woman are fat and old looking, for one. Everyone except the elite are sad and deprived. Russian scientists will do anything to protect the state (this refers to the ending bit of commentary where the film makers made fun of the Russian scientist who said she had discovered the new phenomena of non-secretor where the blood type and the semen type can differ.

Aside from that, this film stands on its own as good film with a tight script, excellent acting, and enough tension to keep us watching it. Like most reviewers, I stumbled across it accidentally on a movie streaming site.
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9/10
A pleasing coming of age movie
6 July 2015
I'm writing this 40 years after first seeing this movie, so that should tell you how tremendously this film impressed me. It was released so close to Vietnam that almost any war movie made one think of Vietnam even when not about that war.

Richard Thomas was the perfect actor for the lead. His sensitive interpretation of a boy becoming the man of the house through less than typical circumstances should have won awards.

But this movie wasn't as funny of Summer of 42 and wasn't as heart-braking as the Last Picture Show, so it failed to grab the attention it deserved.
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4/10
Interesting to see Philip Seymour Hoffman but copies Citizen Kane
11 June 2015
I couldn't quite place whether the movie was intentionally acted badly to underscore its mocku-mentary style or whether it was just badly acted. The exception being Angela Goethals who played the youngest. Quite a natural effortless-ness about her acting.

It made great use of the river and the boat as it moved around the periphery of Manhattan.

The camera angles and lighting and even the plot were reminiscent of Citizen Kane. An almost anonymous interviewer (off-sides much of the time) asks questions until we have the full picture of the family.

Philip Seymour Hoffman has about 5 minutes in the film and for that reason, this film is now being re-marketed with his name. It was a nicely acted 5 minutes.
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Definitely Worth a Look
6 April 2015
I tuned this in to catch a glimpse of early Steve McQueen. I stayed to watch it. The scenes of St. Louis were very interesting from a historic point of view. So much attention on the cars and the buildings -- this is an accidental snapshot in time. Steve McQueen grabs the attention as very angst ridden about his decisions, seemingly being drawn in a bad situation inch by inch. His girlfriend, although encouraging him to stay on the right path, also abets by funding the duo and not going to the police. Although not a well-known film, overall the acting and the dialog is quite natural. I can see why there is question of a homosexual relationship -- but in those days, hotels/motels were frequently not much more than a tiny bedroom with a double bed and a common bathroom down the hall. Kids frequently slept 2 or 3 to a bed and it wasn't uncommon for adults to share beds to save money.
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Dream Lover (1993)
6/10
Pretty decent thriller
22 March 2015
I picked this to watch and was immediately caught up in the movie. The acting is top notch. Good to see Bess Armstrong and Larry Miller. Madchen Amick did a wonderful job playing the wife and mother.

The movie belongs to James Spader. He sometimes smirks too much or acts like a smarty pants. Here he realistically plays a new husband and father gradually coming to terms with a bad situation.

The plot is tight; it moves along and the characters are well written and keep our interest.

I was wondering why James Spaders hair seemed painted or fakey or plastic-y. I thought I had forgotten what the hair styles back then looked like. There was a carnival setting that opened the movie and reappeared several more times before showing up at the end. I guess the carnival may be an attempt to show a chorus off to the side making commentary on the plot. It was interesting but seemed slightly off.
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9/10
A sort of coming of age story
27 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There's so much I like about this movie. I was in the Navy when I first saw it and loved how it realistically captured the enlisted reality. The dread you felt when an office or Chief came down the hall looking for volunteers. And you were trapped into some stupid detail.

As Mule and Badass drag along Larry to prison forever, they stop along the way to make sure he gets some life experiences before being locked up.

Larry matures enough that by the end he can speak up about his unmelted cheese and attempt a getaway.

The dialog is perfect -- the slang, the intonation, and the attitudes have been captures. The acting is effortless.
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Mr. Hush (2010)
1/10
Thought at first it was deliberately badly acted
17 February 2015
I saw that this is advertised as a 80's type slasher, so I tuned in. The acting and the wife's clothing reminded me of the artificial acting in Mullholland Drive. In that movie, the artificiality served to separate the main character's fake life from her real life.

Here it was lack of knowledge about what natural acting is. The lines were sprightly spoken and emphasized. It so reminded me of watching plays put on by middle school students.

The wife was a modern day June Cleaver. Dressed perfectly and with coordinating dress and sweater to bake cookies. Perfect makeup that changed with the scenes (where was continuity?). High heels.

The daughter had an odd habit of looking off screen before speaking. I guess she was being fed her lines or something.

Maybe this kind of stilted acting would have worked if the plot was interesting.
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6/10
Better than it seems from the overblown photo
8 February 2015
The storyline isn't new, but this little movie catches your attention from the beginning. Can't be the storyline -- we know the ending during the first minute or so. So it's the atmospheric setting and the acting that make this standout from the usual schlocky horror film from the early 60's. There's a normal looking boarding house with a beautiful young woman and a creepy boarder looking at her through the crack in the door. It's the way the camera captures his single eye peering at her that makes him so creepy. Later as the 2 of them sit in a roadhouse, the dialog seems natural and realistic. The special effects were not terrific, but given the era, it would be surprising. Heads pop out of the river and their appearance never causes a change in the ripple pattern. Beginning Photoshop would have fixed that. It's a good movie for a rainy afternoon when you're sleepy and just sitting around.
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7/10
Great at the Time; Doesn't hold up; maybe I've aged
22 November 2014
I was in my twenties when this first came out and thought it was a very emotional and sensuous movie. Playboy did a pictorial layout of the film and since I worked in a drugstore that sold it, I was able to sneak peeks while the manager wasn't watching. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate some of the plots and emotions. I did not understand the jealousy that could be provoked in young children by the introduction of a potential step-parent. I did not understand the emotional and physical needs of the widow. The ending produced a tremendous feeling of sadness which stayed with me. I recently saw it again. Disappointingly it has one of the most erotic scenes edited. The trick of showing time passing by having a picture boat glide across a picture ocean really seems corny. For a better Sarah Miles movie which holds up for its eroticism and story quality, I'd recommend "Ryan's Daughter".
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Transparent (2014– )
9/10
Pulls no punches, yet remains poignant
3 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
There's a huge revelation in the first 10 minutes that sets the tone for this series and yet knowing the revelation doesn't prepare you for the revelations about the family as the series unfolds. This is not just a series about gender identification (six feet under wasn't about death), but it's a poignant view of today's families -- what makes them tick.

This series is a perfect storm of writing, acting, and characterizations that kept me returning to watch it more.

Gaby Hoffman, Jeffrey Gambor, Judith Light: all turning in nuanced performances.
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Big Driver (2014 TV Movie)
8/10
A satisfying revenge movie with twists and turns
19 October 2014
This has the creepy overtones of a Stephen King story and the movie does a very good job of delivering on the story.

On the surface we see a successful author of lightweight mysteries, visiting her fans, and enjoying their adulation.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, she has a childhood trauma that has given her some unique coping abilities that she has used to be successful.

When trauma hits once again, she copes because she has a genius ability to compartmentalize everything.

At times, I wondered if this was going to be a rehash of Misery or perhaps another take on The Burning Bed.

The movie successfully mixes the seriousness of a near death with lighthearted satire.
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The Killing: Blood in the Water (2014)
Season 4, Episode 1
9/10
A very satisfying 4th season
12 October 2014
Once again I found myself rapidly pulled into the characters and the season's plot. As with the prior 3 seasons, there are constant twists and turns to the plot, some of them brought on by the personalities of the leading detectives.

The relationship between the two detectives is tested, mainly because last season ended with them covering up their own guilt in the disappearance of a serial killer.

The writing is top notch; I did not figure out the ending until it was revealed. Those folks with evil intentions sometimes inadvertently produce good results; others with good intentions produce evil.
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EastEnders (1985– )
2/10
If it's a British import, it must be high-toned, right?
31 March 2014
This is just as awful as American Soap Operas, but with that British cachet that Murricans love to exalt. Really, I heard a highly educated person once gush to a British person about this tripe.

I guess it isn't any more offensive than "Days of our Lives" or "The Edge of Night." Thin unbelievable plot lines, acting that sometimes is embarrassing. Carol Burnett got it right when she had scenes depicting a typical soap.

I'm not so much surprised that it is a Soap Opera and it is bad. I am surprised at the number of folks who think this show is a cultural event because it's British and imported to Public Television.
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Terraces (1977 TV Movie)
Rather nice look into the mid 70's -- surprising plot lines as well
19 January 2014
This is very evocative of the type of shows offered in the mid 70's. A soap opera with all plot lines neatly tied up by the end of the movie. Everyone happy.

This is interesting to see for the look into the fashions, the slang, the morals and the music of that period.

-- Julie Newmar showing a belly button (I Dream of Jeannie wasn't allowed to show that part of the anatomy. -- a gay plot line that used the word "gay" and didn't hide it under euphemisms. -- Single women being the aggressor in sexual pursuit and openly saying they liked sex. -- bell bottoms -- dresses with high necklines and flowing skirts. -- culottes as part of business attire. -- adultery without someone being killed off.
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Thirteen (2003)
9/10
This was so true to life, except real life wasn't as optimistic
22 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In real life, I watched as 3 beautiful girls turned into these awful adolescents in real life. It was horrifying to see some of their own escapades on the screen. The heartbreak was real and Holly Hunter had it spot on. The reality of living with an out of control teen is so realistically shown. You give up your own life to try to desperately help someone you love with all your heart. Tough Love doesn't work when someone doesn't care.

By the time I saw this movie, the teens I knew were 20. The horrors they inflicted did not end at age 14 as it did in the movie. It ended for one of them at age 16 when she experienced a brain injury from a car accident driving while under the influence; the second one's ended at age 21 when she suffered a heart attack-stroke combination, thus leaving her baby to a father who liked to punch. The third shaped up.

I don't know if the author was like this at age 13, but I do know she nailed the reality of life for some 13 year olds. She nailed the helplessness of the parent.

It's a movie worth watching even if you don't have teens of your own.
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Finding Bliss (2009)
5/10
It's a movie about itself
7 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This isn't a parody or a satire despite the movie plot being about the porn industry. It has all the elements of a typical porn movie: pun name, hesitant virgin, perfect bodies, gratuitous sex. It's not a romantic comedy. It addresses a couple of the porn industry myths head on: It's not porn, it's Adult Entertainment. Despite no education or experience, porn stars are genuine actors and deserve to cross over. It has about the level of emotional involvement of a Lifetime movie. Denise Richards proves she is a decent actress by not only fooling the actress-director but fooling the audience as well. The most interesting feature was the full frontal shot of Jamie Kennedy.
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Blue Jasmine (2013)
10/10
This movie will be top ten Woody Allen
2 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I loved this movie and will be seeing it again to catch more nuances.

I've read reviews that state it's reminiscent of "Streetcar Named Desire"; I'd put it much stronger than that. It is a modern day version of the Streetcar story. We spent dinner after seeing the movie naming all the parallels between this movie and the Williams play. (San Francisco is known for its Streetcars; did Woody Allen deliberately seek an actress named Blanche(tte) to play Blanche?).

Cate Blanchette deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance that really pulls off the delicate border between sanity and craziness.

The supporting actors were all wonderful. I can't imagine another actress other than Sally Hawkins for the role of Ginger. Alex Baldwin gave a nuanced performance; Andrew Dice Clay's control made him all the more menacing. Bobby Cannavale in tears was endearing.

The movie withholds a surprise punch, but maybe not so surprising if you keep "Streetcar Named Desire" in mind.

For a film with a lot of dialogue, it moved very quickly. I looked forward to the flashback scenes.
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9/10
Lovely graceful film -- excellent acting
12 April 2011
I saw this at the FilmFest DC in April 2011.

The story was complex on so many levels: the wonderful family relationship of the Mozarts as they travelled around Europe. The strong feminine influences; the strictures of society that allow the older sister's intellect to waste away; the daughters of the king who were locked away in isolation.

The costumes were authentic without being overly lush.

The relationship between the young Wolfgang and his older sister was quite touching.

The growth of the lead actress from barely a teen to a woman accepting her fate was written (all within a year or so) and acted very well.

There was an interesting subplot with the king's daughter that showed the two girls/women accepting the same fate albeit at different levels of society.
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Nuummioq (2009)
8/10
Greenland's first international film has international appeal
10 April 2011
I just saw this at the Film Festival in Washington DC. It is up for several awards. We were fortunate enough to have one of the film's directors available for Q&A.

Some of the plot elements difficult to understand are uniquely Greenlandic. The tourist woman who dies is a Greenlandic legend about wandering the world and then returning home only to die just before reaching Greenland. The two small totems brought home from the cave have something to do with marriage and are somehow related to strong family ties.

This film is quite evocative, the music is Greenlandic. The use of the music is different from most other film types. It may have something to do with the Greenlander's ability to live with long strong silences.

The film is more impressive once you know that the actors are amateurs. For all of them, this is their first full length film; the lead actor pays his rent by carpentering; the family unit is really related to each other.

The Greenlandic language is interesting. You can hear strains of German, Danish and English. There is a strong guttural sound to some of the consonants.

I agree with one of the other reviewers that the published summary has little to do with the actual film.
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