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The Nun (2018)
3/10
For Teenagers
16 September 2018
OK but ultimately run-of-the-mill horror. The budget theater I saw this flick in was filled with noisy teenagers yacking and reacting throughout, which would have been a lot worse if I really thought I was missing much.

There are a couple of other annoyances that seem to have gone over other people's heads here. For one, although the movie makes much of this being in Romania, and indeed it was filmed there, hardly anyone seems to actually be Romanian. What's really a bothersome anomaly, though, is that the convent and the people involved are Roman Catholic. Certainly there is Roman Catholicism in Romania, but generally only amongst ethnic minorities, especially Hungarians. Actual ethnic Romanians with any religious affiliation, however, almost always identify as Romanian Orthodox, and that is a very important distinction that any Romanian will immediately notice. People elsewhere may think that's no big deal, but just imagine you have a movie set in Italy and every one there is an Episcopalian. Don't you think those in the know would find that ridiculous?
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4/10
Unbelievable — And Not In A Good Way
11 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This film is undeniably visually dazzling, arguably to the point of being exhausting. But what I'm taking from this dubious new genre, if you could call it that, is that filmmakers shamelessly exploit and yet devalue the nature of real-life illusionism (i.e. "magic"), in which the magician actually has to make something work that looks impossible or highly unlikely (it's a trick), by making use of the nearly endless possibilities of film, in which things that would be impossible in real life can actually be accomplished on screen. So we get things like Lizzy Caplan apparently vanishing into thin air in Atlas's apartment, and since magicians, of course, don't divulge how they accomplish their tricks, the film takes advantage of this by doing things that in all likelihood really are impossible — no explanations or credibility necessary.

Since we all know that you can do all these things in the movies anyway, what's the point of making them into magicians, when you can watch a Harry Potter movie and you don't really have to wonder how people in paintings can move?
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9/10
Berlin and Filmmaking as They Were
19 July 2015
Contrary to what some others have observed, I don't find this experimental film tedious at all. Certainly, it is priceless as documentation of the fabled Weimar era of this great city — a city that barely existed at all a couple of decades later. Sure, everyone points that out, but as someone who really loves Berlin, I would never minimize or take for granted in any way the importance of that. I see buildings that are long gone. And I look at the faces of these people and I always wonder what happened to them. How many of them were still alive in 1946? We'll never know.

But it's even better when you try to view it with the mindset of the era in which it takes place. Film itself was still a fascinating novelty at the time and the filmmakers were still as excited as kids on Christmas morning trying to see what they could do with it. The machinery and mod cons were evidence of a revolutionary new way of life, and the Berlin lifestyle was at the vanguard. Imagine what people in some of the most backward parts of the world would have thought of this back then had they seen it.
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The Possession (I) (2012)
5/10
The Exorcist Lite, With a Quirk
5 September 2012
This Sam Raimi produced film could pretty much be considered The Exorcist Lite. Admittedly, though, the storyline is quite different, drawing more from clichéd dramas involving the trials and tribulations of a divorced couple's effects on their children.

And so it is that the mother, at first merely nit-picky and somewhat suspicious of her ex (though putting in some genuine effort to get along with him for the sake of the kids), becomes totally hostile towards him when things don't appear to be going quite right when he has the girls over at his shiny new suburban pad. Of course, the story he needs to tell her is of events apparently unexplainable, if not outright diabolical, so she certainly isn't going to believe him this time, is she? And while we can be expected to empathize with what the two girls are going through, aren't they just a little bit precious and snotty, especially towards their father, whom though flawed, obviously loves them and is trying to do a good job as the alternative parent?

Incidentally, an interesting quirk that most people won't know is that while the box is lettered in Hebrew, the dybbuk itself speaks in Polish! I'm not really sure what to make of that.
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Gimme Shelter (1970)
Meredith Hunter Was Hardly Innocent!
30 August 2010
Contrary to the apparent tone of a rambling previous review, Meredith Hunter was hardly innocent. If he was merely attempting to stand up to the Angels because of their (hardly surprising) thuggery, how is it, then, that he presumably already had a gun with him when he came to the show? Either that, or he knew where to go looking for one when he got there, which still shows premeditation and a strong possibility of already having had connections to the person or group that was the source of the gun. Oh, and by the way, most of the violence in the audience was caused by the audience members themselves, most of which were well removed from the area of the stage, where the Angels were primarily set up.

No, amidst this sea of stupidity on all levels, stupidest of all was Meredith Hunter, and I can hardly believe some people still don't understand that waving a gun at the stage in a drugged- up rage will always look like someone is intending to do some serious harm to any number of people (many agree it was actually the Stones themselves who were the likely target, not any of the Angels). But then, I can believe it after all, because lots of people today aren't any smarter.
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Naive Fantasy Blinded By Wishful Thinking
20 August 2010
Ah, but if only it were realistic. Because if anyone knows anything about the way the Soviet Union dealt with sailors in those days, the regime would never have let these two guys go off by themselves on shore, not even for a short while. I hope no one has to explain to you why. And even if this sweet young thing did get her chance to get a letter through to Brezhnev, he would surely be wondering how this sailor was able to free himself long enough to get into this situation in the first place, and I can tell you he wouldn't like it — even if the propaganda value might otherwise be useful.

But of course, romantic notions of life in the Soviet Union were not exactly rare at the time — especially, perhaps, in a very depressed place like Liverpool in the '80's. I wished Elaine luck, but it's kind of like watching one of those old Science Fiction movies and hoping the aliens and the earthlings can learn how to get along, because you know that in real life you don't really have to or get to.
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Fracture (2007)
5/10
I Wish It Made More Sense
18 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I, too, enjoyed much of the movie and I eagerly awaited the payoff, realizing that Crawford's layman background (he represented himself in his defense) would be the big hole to be exploited. And it was somewhat interesting, but mainly for the degree to which it apparently makes little sense

Look, I have no medical or legal background myself, but common sense tells me that the fact that Crawford had initially been tried for attempted murder and yet would be given the right to pull the cord at any time should have at least raised questions right from the start. Now, you can say that since he was acquitted, nothing could stand in Crawford's way. But if a doctor has said that "she probably would have outlived both of us," to more or less quote Beachum talking to Crawford, at the very least there should have been far more controversy over allowing Crawford free rein. Alright, that's a little fuzzy and good for provoking conversation, but will anyone with a legal background explain to me how Crawford could be acquitted of attempted murder charges and consequently be allowed to pull the plug on his wife and yet now be charged with murder on new grounds? Of course, there's new evidence, and of course, the charge will now be murder (not attempted murder), so double jeopardy is avoided. But the point is, how can pulling the plug now so conveniently be considered murder when the doctors allowed him to do it in the first place, presumably based on medical diagnosis and opinion, and presumably within the limits of the law? You would have to go after a lot more than just Crawford.
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8/10
Don't Get Too Hung Up On "Gypsy"
10 August 2007
Some of the above writers are overreacting to the word "Gypsy." Sure it's etymologically and ethnologically inaccurate, but names for ethnic groups often are. How about "American Indian?"

Actually, when speaking English, many Roma themselves seem to have little or no problem referring to themselves as "Gypsies." Likewise, ask an American Indian what he/she would like to be called and you may be surprised to find that most of them would prefer "Indian" over "Native American," "American Aborigine," or whatever. I think some well-intended non-Indians and non-Gypsies just decided for themselves that these names are offensive, without even actually asking the effected peoples themselves.

Besides, you should know that the Romany word used for non-Roma, Gadjo, is unquestionably of a pejorative connotation (in contrast to, say, "Gentile"), reflecting the fact that in traditional Roma culture the Gadjo are considered unclean (which is exactly what the word means). Furthermore, though it may not be politically correct to say so, the fact of the matter is that in the traditional culture the Gadjo are to be strictly avoided, unless they can somehow be exploited for the benefit of the Roma. Do some serious research into Romany culture before you summarily doubt this.

So don't be so uptight. "Gypsy," when you get right down to it, is really just the English Language name for a Roma person, just as "Niemiec," meaning one who just doesn't understand or get it (and is by inference an outsider) is the word in Slavic languages for a German, and just as the word "Slav" is the source of the word for slave in most western languages. I mean, how politically incorrect is that?
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10/10
Shocking Evidence of Occupation and German Attitudes
6 August 2007
I agree with most of what Zardoz12 has to write, except that those were not "Polish death camps;" those were German Nazi death camps located in Poland, which makes all the difference in the world. As the Poles had the same Slavic "untermenschen" status as the Russsians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians, they were treated and suffered comparatively. And one should understand (as not many non-Slavs do these days) that all these peoples were going to be exterminated by the Nazi regime sooner or later. Most were slated to be slowly worked and starved to death doing slave labor for the Reich and its settlers. Remember the "Drang Osten" and "Lebensraum?" That's what it was all about.

There were two things that horrified me the most. First of all, the way the Germans seemed to have coaxed civilian women into burying other civilians and Soviet soldiers by crudely dumping their compatriots into mass graves. They seem to be doing so rather dutifully and stoically, which makes one wonder whether they were actually collaborators, or just doing so out of concerns for sanitation. There were in fact collaborators, but one must remember that after the horrors that Stalin perpetrated on the population in the 1930's, many people were desperate to escape him. Furthermore, it is well known that the very hungry peasants often did what they thought they had to do to survive. Add to that the fact that undoubtedly many people there — and especially the poorly educated and impoverished rural majority — did not really understand what the Nazis had in store for them, and it's not so simple as it may seem to us now.

The second thing is when you see that long line of captured and injured people and one of the German soldiers — obviously extremely nervous about this — says that, unfortunately, the manual doesn't say what to do when you have (I think it was approximately) 90,000 captives on hand. Hmmm…now, what do you think happened to them?
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