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Whosoever tries to save his life shall lose it.
11 July 2011
The French New Wave cinema is alive and well, thank you, as evidence by this powerful film.

Slow and subtle, it gives us a look at community, in this case a community of Trappist monks working with poor Algerians. They are faced with almost certain death by Muslim fundamentalists if they stay, but can they abandon the mission they were sent to do.

A look at differences in religious belief is a fundamental of the film. The Muslim soldiers cannot fathom the praying over a dead terrorist, but didn't god say to pray for your enemies? The music is amazing and the scenery is spectacular, but it is the agony of decision amidst war that really hits home.

Superb!
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The Fury (1978)
6/10
...and what a culture can't assimilate, it destroys.
9 July 2011
Leave it to director Brian De Palma to De Palma's to really show us the bizarre and the paranormal, and the special effects necessary to create them. In Carrie, he had Sissy Spacek tear apart houses and burned down the high school. Look for the same excitement and fun here. From nosebleeds to explosion, he mines the kids in the film for all they are worth.

Kirk Douglas, who plays a former government agent, is on the trail of his son, who has these psychic abilities, and who was kidnapped by the government.

Amy Irving, who was Carrie;s friend gets her own opportunity to shine.

Yes, it does have one of the goriest scenes in the movies.
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Kalifornia (1993)
8/10
Cold weather makes people stupid and that's a fact.
25 June 2011
A Brad Pitt movie I haven't seen. What a surprise?It also has Juliette Lewis, and that's a big plus.

As an additional bonus, it has Maryann (Michelle Forbes) from True Blood. Mchelle was also in The Killing as Mitch Larsen. She was also in three episodes of Waking the dead; episodes I have not seen yet.

It was a fascinating film about serial killers and Pitt was dark and amazing as the one they never expected.

Lewis was her usual funny white trashy self.

Forbes was the real star here as the one that went from revulsion to fear.

Mind blowing action.
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6/10
Classic tale with classic actors
14 June 2011
Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney all in the same film. No matter what the films flaws, the presence of these three portends a film that will be worth watching.

Add to that John Carradine (House of the Long Shadows), Tor Johnson (Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Beast of Yucca Flats), and Akim Tamiroff (For Whom the Bell Tolls, The General Died at Dawn). A fine supporting cast of horror characters.

Loonies, religious nuts,mutants, dungeons. and exposed brain matter. A refreshingly intelligent premise and a completely deranged finale that comes out of nowhere.

Well worth watching.
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Blood Shack (1971)
3/10
The chooper will git ya!
5 June 2011
If you like watching home movies, you will love this film. It is a real family affair.

Directed by Ray Dennis Steckler, a schlock filmmaker who did horror in the 60s and 70s, and then went on to porn as Cindy Lou Sutters, it stars Carolyn Brandt, who was married to him at the time, and their two daughters, Linda and Laura. Like I said, a family affair.

I had to laugh every time Daniel (Jason Wayne) talked about the "chooper" instead of "chopper." Needless to say, many of the actors in this film did nothing else. Probably just locals picked up for a cheap film.

If you are looking for blood, gore, and nudity, look elsewhere, as this film lacks everything.
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Maniac (1963)
5/10
You take a man's wife, Mr. Farrell, but not his money?
4 June 2011
Hammer films are usually enjoyable, so I take the time to tune in to what promises to be an interesting story.

I don't know much about Liliane Brousse (Annette). She only made 12 films in a short period, and this was the next to last one. She plays a young girl who helps an artist (Kerwin Mathews ) who is stranded in town.

Her stepmother Eve(Nadia Gray) has plans for the young man. Plans that involve her incarcerated husband.

Plenty of double-crosses to keep you interested, but you are left wanting something that is not provided.
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9/10
Because I have a right to be heard. I have a voice!
2 June 2011
I never miss an opportunity to see Helena Bonham Carter. As Queen Elizabeth, she was fantastic. I also like Timothy Spall. He made a great Winston Churchhill.

That being said, the film is about events surrounding King George VI (Colin Firth) and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech teacher.

It was a compelling story of love and war and a reluctant King.

The struggle between King and teacher went far beyond the surface until a friendship developed that allowed Lionel (Rush) to get King George through the most difficult days England has ever faced.

Worth watching over and over.
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Suck (2009)
6/10
I would say you're 30 pounds of junk food and a retail job away from killing yourself. Just a guess.
15 April 2011
For those not into the Twilight genre of pretend vampire movies, this is an interesting film from Canada.

The band sucks, and so does someone else. The second sucking will cure the first.

Rock legends Alice Cooper, Moby, and Iggy Pop contribute to the fun, which also includes cartoon scenes interspersed throughout.

And, what would be a vampire movie without Van Helsing. Malcolm McDowell fills that role splendidly.

More yucks than gore. So, it is really a very soft R, almost a PG-13. Put drugs in a film and it overrides everything else.
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4/10
That kind of thing really gets to me, that someone could do that to her own children.
15 April 2011
This is supposedly based upon real events in New Jersey in the 70s, as if that makes it better. It is also supposedly an exact remake of the 1987 film of the same name. I was interested in that, as I have not been able to catch the original, which had two sequels. I did see the second one.

First off, something cannot be a replica if it has a different rating. The 1987 original was rated "R." This is PG-13 to appeal to the teens. That is why they also added Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl) and Amber Heard.

A crucial element of 80s slasher films is missing, and I do not have to tell aficionados what that is.

I do like Jon Tenney (The Closer) in the role of the real father. He acts just like I would.

Dylan Walsh as the stepfather creeps around until he realizes the jig is up. Then he jumps into the only real action in the film.

The ending? Well, there were three in the original series, so...
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Long Weekend (2008)
4/10
Don't screw with Mother Nature
7 April 2011
I knew I would regret this when I found that the DVD title (Nature's Grave)is different. I would never have tuned into Long Weekend, especially if I knew it was a remake. At least the first one supposedly had some naked charlies; not in this one. In fact, I find it difficult to understand the "R" rating.

It stars James Caviezel, better known as Jesus in that movie I would never watch. He is a real jerk. You might use a stronger word. Let's just say that spending a couple of days with him in the wood would indeed be a long weekend - a very very long weekend. You would be tempted to pick up one of his toys and use it.

His wife is Claudia Karvan, nice looking, and supposedly one of Austrailia's best actresses. I have not seen her before, though I am tempted to get her first film, Down Under. She was clearly the superior actor in this movie.

This was not a horror film. The only instance where is could have been called horror, was too funny. It had to do with a Manatee.

Bottom line: two people hate each other and agree to get away for a weekend in the woods with another couple. Other couple doesn't show, and you are stuck with someone you hate. He is a supreme jerk that has no respect for nature or the environment. He gets what's coming to him.
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The Order (2003)
7/10
The terrible thing about the truth is that sometimes you find it.
2 January 2011
I have been exposed to enough truth to not be offended by the anti-Catholic bias displayed in the film. Anyway, I wouldn't let something like that deter me from watching a Heath Ledger film that I missed. He was taken from us far too early, and one should partake of every example he gave of his acting skills.

Be forewarned. This film requires you to watch and think. That leaves out a whole lot of modern moviegoers, and would explain why it was not a bigger film. It is also dark and moody, which leaves out those looking for scatological humor.

Brian Helgeland wrote, produced and directed the film, and even brought Ledger, Mark Addy and Shannyn Sossamon from The Knight's Tale along with him. As they say in the film, they are the "Catholic Pete, Linc and Julie", solving a mystery surrounded by horror from Hell.

If you like films like Stigmata, Lost Souls and The Omen, you will enjoy this one.
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A Diva's Christmas Carol (2000 TV Movie)
7/10
I may be a sweetheart now, but no one pees on the diva!
19 December 2010
I love A Christmas Carol. I have seen multiple versions of the story an I love every one of them. It is such a classic story that lends itself to many interpretations.

This one stars Vanessa Williams as a pop diva that is just made to life her life over and turn into someone good.

Kathy Griffin does a great job as the Ghost of Christmas Past. She is so funny. John Taylor of Duran Duran is the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost of Christmas Future was definitely unusual. A dramatic difference from others.

Of course, we all know how it ends, but that doesn't spoil anything. Williams was fantastic as the new Ebony.
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8/10
Did you guys think I was gay?
16 December 2010
My first reaction was that I was watching the Odd Couple with Felix and Oscar. Nic (Annette Bening) was just falling all over herself trying to be open an accepting, while Jules (Julianne Moore) was more authentic and earthy.

In fact, I would probably be in opposition to most when I say that Moore did a much better job in the film. Yeah, I know that Bening is getting more of the accolades, but I just get turned off by her character's perfectionism.

Mark Ruffalo was excellent as Paul, the sperm donor, and Mia Wasikowska was endearing as their daughter, Joni.

A great film about relationships and parenting with a twist that makes it all the more fun.
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The Santa Suit (2010 TV Movie)
7/10
I don't think there is anybody in the whole world that cares about Drake Hunter.
12 December 2010
Every year we are exposed to different takes on traditional stories. There are rarely new concepts, just different ways of interpretation.

Kevin Sorbo has a dozen screen appearances this year, and it is a welcome break to see him in something other than Hercules or Syfy.

He is perfect as an unloved CEO - no wife, no girlfriend, no friends of any kind. He pushed cheap toys and is only interested in sales, not people.

Of course, he runs into the real Santa, who decides to teach him a lesson. He is now broke and in a Santa suit. What else is going to do but work as Santa for Christmas? Of course, there is a sad, cute little girl (Brianna Daguanno), and a perky social worker (Jennifer Gibson).

This one will tug at your heartstrings even if you know how it will end.
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6/10
The dog's dead, but the rabies is not over.
11 December 2010
I have been viewing a few Italian sex comedies, and found this little gem - a Mexican sex comedy.

Comandante Martínez (Jesús Ochoa - Nicotina) is investigating a string of murders where all of the women have a big smile on their face. They died very happy. What's the coroner say - they died in the throes of major orgasm! Outside of Ochoa, the main attractions of the movie are the extremely attractive women that get murdered.

He does solve the crime, and manages to get rid of some problems with his new found luck. He even manages to perfect the technique to his everlasting advantage.
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L'alcova (1985)
6/10
You are not going to use me... to make money.
10 December 2010
Joe D'Amato laves his cannibal past and ventures into soft core porn. It is really more than an exhibition of full frontal - there is certainly enough of that. It actually has an interesting story about the fall of the landed gentry.

The Colonel (Al Cliver - Zombie, The Beyond) returns from war with a chief's daughter (Laura Gemser - Black Emmanuel) in tow. His wife (Lilli Carati - Miss Italy 1975) is at first dismissive of the woman and certainly racist in her comments.

Gemser is not happy with her position, and soon discovers that the wife and the Colonel's secretary (Annie Belle - The House on the Edge of the Park) have their own thing going. She plot to get the wife on her side using her considerable skills at lovemaking.

Meanwhile, the Colonel is discovering he is a failure as a writer and the banks are clamoring at the door. He decides to make porn films. Things do not go well for Belle, as she is paired with the gardener (Roberto Caruso). But, she gets her revenge in the end.

The cinematography was excellent.
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Fuk sau (2009)
7/10
This jacket belongs to you.
5 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
You know when you watch a Johnnie To film that there will be a whole lot of bullets flying. There is no exception here. The number of guns and bullets was enough for a small war.

Johnny Hallyday's family is attacked and his son-in-law and grandchildren are killed, and his daughter ends up in the hospital. He sells his apartment and restaurant and goes after the killers.

He hires three Triad hit men who happen to work for the man who set the hit (Simon Yam). The bullets fly as they fight it out with the killers in the forest at night and later when they are successful, but then Fung (Yam) goes after them.

Hallyday is all alone, but has a secret. He used to be a hit man himself. Nice to be able to finish the job.
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Glass Trap (2005)
4/10
Here Ants! Here Ants!
4 December 2010
It has been a long time since The Poseidon Adventure, but I have to say that Stella Stevens still looks good. Maybe it's the water in Mississippi.

She is a real bit*h of a boss to Sharon (Siri Baruc), who just happens to see the first ant. No. it's not Them, but it is a throwback to that period. Splattering blood looks so much better in color.

The ants themselves were terrible. They were so fake that only the clueless would be truly scared. Even the gun they found looked fake.

Things get interesting when Martin Kove shows to battle the ants.

MIla (Diana Kauffman) and LuLu (Ana Alexander) provide much needed distractions throughout.
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Marathon Man (1976)
8/10
Is it safe?... Is it safe?
30 November 2010
Laurence Olivier received an Oscar nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role. BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations were also handed out for John Schlesinger's direction, Dustin Hoffman and Marthe Keller's acting, and William Goldman's script.

This is the way thrillers used to be made, and producers today should pay attention.

It slowly draws you in. You really don't know how things connect at first. You don't know who to trust. You really don't know what they are after.

When it does get going, the action is fast and furious. The holes are filled in, and we know that the challenge will be to survive.

Great acting, great direction and a great script.
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Agora (2009)
8/10
I was forgiven and now I can't forgive.
26 November 2010
Leave it to the church to exalt a slimy bigot like Cyril (Sami Samir) to sainthood. he was not interested in anything but power.

This is the story of the Taliban and the Tea Partiers, and the Christian Right in America set in the time when the Romans controlled Alexandria.

First, the Christians drove those who worshipped Greek and Roman gods out of power, and deemed them unworthy of converting. The they went after the Jews. Having driven out all the other religions, the went after women and children. Does all this sound familiar? These bigots justified their murder and hatred by saying it is what God wants. It was obvious that it was what they wanted, and only used God to justify their hate. We see that today.

Rachel Weisz was fantastic as the voice of reason. A lost cause against those who abandoned knowledge and reason for their personal glory.

A beautiful film with outstanding cinematography, costumes and sets, and an excellent job of direction by Alejandro Amenábar.
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Showgirls (1995)
7/10
Sooner or later you're gonna have to sell it.
25 November 2010
Sure, it's over-the-top, cheesy, over-acted, loud, and silly, but it is fun! Come on, there's Gina Gershon, who had us in Bound. She looks like she wants to bind Nomi the moment she sees her.

It also has Detective Irene Daniels (Gina Ravera) from "The Closer." as the friend of Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley), who is trying to get her in the dancing business. The real guy trying to help her is James (Glenn Plummer), but first he has to get her over her over-acted attitude.

Of course, she is doing lap dances in the meantime. The dance she does for Zack (Kyle MacLachlan) for Cristal (Gerson) was one of those over-the-top moments. But it was nothing compared to the one in the pool.

She passes everyone on her way to the top, some times not nicely. Then she find the real price of stardom. She was no willing to pay it.

And, it's got monkeys! Sure, it objectifies women; just as reality shows, commercials, and most everything else these days.
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The Asylum (2000)
6/10
I had to have a congregation.
25 November 2010
Jenny (Stephanie Pitt) is having nightmares in which her mother is killed. She won't have to look far as this film also stars Stephanie's real mother Ingrid Pitt, who died this week.

She enlists the help of her friend William (Nick Waring), and they go investigate the asylum where her father (Patrick Mower) used to work. As soon as they arrive, people start dying.

It is filmed in a real abandoned asylum and has a really creepy feel throughout.

Who killed her mother? We shall never know as the cast of suspects is large and even included a last minute surprise, but that is not what is important.

A good suspenseful film.
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6/10
...only the blood of a virgin may do.
25 November 2010
One only has to take a look at Ingrid Pitt as she changes from Countess Elisabeth Nodosheen to a nineteen old version to immediately know why she is the Most Beautiful Ghoul in the World.

A retelling of the Elizabeth Bathory tale with the gorgeous Pitt is certainly one worth watching if not for her, for the ample flesh that is displayed as girls are murdered to keep her beautiful.

Nigel Green is the unfortunate Captain Dobi, the Countess' lover, who is charged with providing girls to die for her, only to see her go after a much younger man.

Elizabeth has her own daughter Ilona (Lesley-Anne Down) imprisoned so she could pretend to be her.

It gets more horrible when it is found that only virgins will do, and you can imagine Ilona's eventual fate.

An exciting tale with a beautiful woman who we lost just this week.
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5/10
The weak sequel
23 November 2010
Gianfranco D'Angelo, who was Professor Puntiglio in The School Teacher, is back with his Hitler mustache at a new school as Professor Strumolo. He is still teaching physical education, but is no longer going with Edwige Fenech, who is Monica Sebastiani, no longer a tutor, but a teacher at a Catholic boy's school. Reminds me of my typing teacher, who was also the only female at the school I went to.

Fenech doesn't waste time displaying her ample assets as she performs a striptease in class. It was just a student's (Leo Colonna) fantasy.

We don't see her again until later in the shower. I thought the boys would have a peephole, but no. Poor Carlo (Colonna) is pining away and getting nowhere.

While he is pining, his dad is trying to get Monica himself. But, mostly, the movie was students pulling silly pranks on their professors.

The movie didn't seem to have a purpose, and, if they made half the effort they did on the first, it would have been good.
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L'insegnante (1975)
6/10
I don't shoot pornography
22 November 2010
The film starts off like an Italian Porky's: three boys checking out the girls bathroom where two well endowed girls are comparing breasts. It is one of the Italian sex comedies popular in the seventies.

Franco (Alfredo Pea), the boy who got the best of his buddies is in danger of failing, and gets a private tutor (Edwige Fenech). Now, as a typical teen, he is delighted when he meets her.

Giovanna (Fenech) doesn't arrive until late in the film, but she is the reason we are here. You cannot look at her long legs without excitement building up.

Franco is desperate. He even pretends he is gay to get her to sleep with him. I'm not sure how that is supposed to work.

He does manage to get a good look at her in the bathroom and cops a feel while she is sleeping, but, it isn't until he fakes a suicide that he finally achieves success.

Great comedy and a welcome view of Fenech.
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