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9/10
Heartwarming and quirky
17 September 2019
A young Japanese emplyoee embarks on a business journey into the heart of China, where he's completely out of his water in every conceivable way. In the end he will have found something completely different from what he set out to find in the beginning. An excellent movie despite lacking many of the ingredients we expect from a Miike production. It's a bit like Lynch's "Straight Story" in that respect, and also in the fact that the plot itself is rather thin; it's the locations and people and little events by the road that make it so engrossing. (Another good comparison would be "Local Hero", thematically very similar and with a near identical hero, though anchored in a wholly different culture) Highly recommended! The only little drawback which prevented me from rating it 10/10 was the Yakuza character; he's important but rather obnoxious; you could easily cut five minutes or more of his more annoying scenes without losing his pivotal role.
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9/10
Entertaining and intriguing
26 July 2019
While strictly an arthouse film, The Holy Mountain shines by a relentless pace and absence of self-indulgence - no scene is longer than necessary, and many of the takes which ot must have taken weeks to compose and prepare are only 10 or 20 seconds long in the finished cut. Plus, there's a lot of humor. As to the "plot" or content - some reviewers have pointed out that you need at least a basic understanding of the esoteric arts, the Tarot or something - well, I'm not interested in any of those things - in fact consider myself rather a rationalist - but nontheless I found the film thoroughly entertaining and intriguing. (Not to mention the fact that Jodorowsky is not too serious about those themes and in fact pokes fun at those too credulous in the final scene)
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Pets (1973)
6/10
Not bad considering the budget
23 November 2018
While "Pets" might be shelved among other "erotic thrillers", it's much too relaxed for that genre, and sexuality is generally portrayed as fun, not dangerous. Dangerous, here, is linked with possessiveness, and so the movie is firmly grounded in the 60s with their non-possessive ways. Also very 60ish - the meandering plot, with our "heroine" Bonnie (nice play) drifting through various more or less strange episodes and always getting some satisfaction out of it. The small scale of the production is clearly visible (sometimes painfully) and takes away some enjoyment, but overall Pets is a fun romp with very few boring moments and some real erotic tension without much sleaze.
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Love (II) (2015)
5/10
Mostly disappointing
13 October 2018
The dissection of relationships is a wellknown theme for films but this is not a good one - the main problem is the protagonist, Murphy (played by a rather bland Karl Glusman) who is, self-admittedly, only good at destroying things. It's simply neither nice nor captivating to watch a bunch of self-destructive people do their destructing, and it's also far from enlightening or enriching. Basically it's more than two hours of painful watching without any levity; the only touching scenes are the sex scenes which are really well done, far from any porn aesthetics but beautiful and the only sequences where the characters seem to enjoy themselves. Which was maybe the point but doesn't carry the story far enough to make it interesting. The camerawork doesn't help - mostly very severe central perspectives and neatly composed still images, very much like a Wes Anderson film, but without the humour. The music was very good, a rather eclectic mix but well chosen - along with the sex scenes, this is what saves 'Love' from being a pure disaster. Still, after the terrific 'Enter the Void' I can't feel but pretty disappointed with 'Love'.

Parental advice: The characters use rather violent language in some scenes, shouting at each other and there's even face-slaps, so you might consider leaving the kids at home for this one.
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8/10
A truly mesmerising experience
12 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Enter the Void doesn't tell much of a story (the plot could have been squeezed in 10 minutes), but it offers an experience like few other films ... this is for people who find Aronofsky maybe a little bland and Cronenberg too silly; it's also a great date movie if your date happens to be a nihilistic buddhist junkie. The whole "plot" gets foreshadowed in the first minutes where Oscar's friend Alex tells him about what happens to the soul after death, according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. So, no big surprises that after Oscar's premature demise, we follow exactly those steps - but that doesn't take away any enjoyment; the scenes Oscar witnesses, the memories of his and his sister Linda's crual and/or tender past - it all makes for a truly mesmerizing piece of art. It's not only the images (quite revolutionary and visceral in themselves), it's the rhythm, the music (fantastic selection, with Bach's glassharped Air breaking the ice), the human brutality and the little spots of tenderness. And just when I was thinking the one thing the film couldn't offer me were any surprises, and Elton John would sing 'Circle of Life' (the scene with the pregnancy test), I looked at the watch and, what?! - there's an hour more?! I was hooked for good ... This is not an actor's movie, very little in the way of dialogue or development, and most scenes are filmed from above anyway, but the cast do their job and I was positively surprised by Paz de la Huerta whose Linda radiates a heartrending vulnerabilty I wouldn't usually associate with this actress.

There's not a single joke in this movie and very few sceens anyone would find funny ... so, as mentioned, as a date movie it really depends on your date - but if he/she likes 'Enter the Void', well - you're lucky, that's obviously a person worth knowing!
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7/10
Works better as a comedy than romance or drama
23 April 2018
A bit of an uneven ride, "Un profil pour deux" works mainly as a comedy. That's because the story feels extremely contrived - you don't mind that for a comedy, but anything more serious falls flat if you can't believe in the story or the characters. As to those characters, they're played mostly for laughs, too, except the three leads who have to carry the romance and drama. While Pierre Richard and Fanny Valette are excellent, Yaniss Lespert seems miscast, he's the weakest part of the trio. While those shortcomings keep it from being an A movie for me, "Un profil pour deux" is still a quick-footed and somewhat cute comedy with some bite to it, too - you won't be bored and you will snicker and smile.
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6/10
Mildly entertaining, but too faithful to the source material
12 April 2018
Nick Knatterton was a successful comic in the 50s; the success led to this big screen adaption which is an ok movie but suffers from being too faithful. The comic was a firework of visual gags and wordplay (on top of being a spoof of the superhero genre as well as agent and spy stories). But it was appearing as a weekly installment, so the storylines were always rather jumpy and erratic, and the characters stayed very flat.

So, while the ingredients of the comic are all in place - stupid criminals, trussed-up low-cut girl victims, dangerous low-cut ladies, techical gadgets and the (more or less) all-knowing, cynic and invincible (in the end) hero - it's too little to make the 90 minute film really gripping. Another drawback is the low budget: the actors were mostly B material and there's a very limited amount of sets.

At least it's not boring, most gags are ok, the pace is not too fast but relentless, many scenes even felt a few sentences short. Recommended for fans of the comics or completists of 50s german cinema.
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Na komete (1970)
6/10
Quirky as expected, but not very captivating
12 April 2018
This falls a bit short of Zeman's best works, and the shortcomings concern the plot and characters as well as the images. Plot-wise, there's little tension despite the big scale; it is more a political satire than an adventure (already a "fault" of the story it's based on), and the characters stay flat and unconvincing, more like prototypes than real men or women. As to the images, the different kinds of animation and the real-life sets don't blend as well as in other Zeman's productions; the scenes onboard the ship with the ubiquitous hatching (everybody is wearing stripes, too) look as if taken from "The Deadly Invention" while many of the outdoor scenes resemle not very good B&W movies from the 20s; the animation of the giant lizards look completely different again as do the celestial effects.

Recommended for Zeman and animation fans; on its own merits this film is a bit boring.
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8/10
A powerful fairy-tale
20 February 2018
A modern fairy-tale centered around the uncanny power of sexuality. Perfect art direction, and Sally Hawkins is a force (she was the best thing about Blue Jasmine, too). The beginning was more Jeunet than delToro, a few hints of Amelie and City of Lost Children, but the movie found its voice about 20 minutes in. It positively revels in its B-movie tropes (Michael Shannon's first scene sets the tone) and takes them to extremes which were not possible back then when the originals were shot, without changing the basic sensibilities.

Was there something not to like? There's a side-plot about enemy agents which is completely superfluous; every scene we spend with those cardboard Russians is a scene wasted imho; ads nothing to the story and takes us away from the protagonists. In a fairy-tale things should be kept simple.

But overall, while not delToro's best, The Shape of Water is definitely worth a ticket.
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9/10
The art of acting - magnificent relationship drama!
20 February 2018
Wow. What a supposedly simple story, and so much tension! Filmmaking at its finest - the score, the framing, the rhythm are excellent, but at the core we have acting at its finest from the two leads. While Daniel Day-Lewis needs no introduction. Vicky Krieps is the true revelation here - it's her first international production (I think) and her role is the complete opposite of the one in "The Chambermaid Lynn" where she first caught my eye, but her play is equally mesmerising. We'll never see her in an action blockbuster I guess; hers is a play of face and stance, and she draws you in like few others. In fact, "Phantom Thread" would make a nice double feature with "Lynn" - where the "plot" sees the titular girl just beginning to develop some sense of self-worth and finally daring to make her own decisions - in "Phantom Thread", Alma is a full-fledged force of nature, forcing herself into the Woodcock household and finally whittling down Day-Lewis' driven Reynolds to manageable size and form while keeping peace with his difficult sister (a very silent but intense performance by Lesley Manville). Another movie which imposes itself as a double feature with Phantom Thread, by the way, would be "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women" - since Phantom Thread exemplifies Marston's idiosyncratic worldview whereas happiness for the modern man is to be found in the submission to a loving and wise woman.

The real triumph of Phantom Thread lies in the fact that it manages to make the strange relationship between Alma and Reynolds believable despite the extremes of silliness and brutality and tenderness it goes through. Highly recommended!
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5/10
Glamourous but slowly paced and badly acted ...
28 January 2018
The english sex comedy genre has given us a lot of cringeworthy stuff but also some gems; sadly "Preaching to the Perverted" is not amongst them. Thematically it's almost a companion piece to 70's "Every Home Should Have One", but it falls short in almost every respect. The main problems are that it's incredibly slow (it takes nearly 45 minutes until the story gets going and over an hour until it gets interesting), and that the acting is somewhere between bland and atrocious. So, while the idea of conflicting emotions in the sterile fetish world has some merit, it never takes off because there's zero chemistry between the leads. Same goes for the fun; there ARE some nice gags here but too few and most of them executed with bad timing.

Overall, interesting mostly for fetish completists; as an actual comedy it falls a few inches short.
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8/10
Excellent Spy Comedy
11 January 2018
There's no shortage of spy comedies; in fact the whole genre of spy movies (even serious ones) is constantly in danger of slipping into spoof territory. So, making a spy comedy that's "different" or refreshing in any way is not easy - yet "Operation Corned Beef" succeeds, It does so by going a different route - here, we have no silly technical gadgets, we don't have a megalomanic villain, we have neither an army of martial arts experts nor nubile young women - the comedy centers on the simple fact that even agents have a private life, and from there on hilarity ensues. While all proceedings seem rather by-the-book, the intrusion of everyday life makes even simple tasks like bugging a conversation or removing a bystander from an important scene a sysiphosian task. Highly recommended!
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6/10
More a revenge drama than living history
6 December 2017
Not a bad movie, "Der Mann aus dem Eis" gets weighed down by its "plot" which concentrates on Ötzi's violent death and the days before, creating a murder and revenge story with lots of violence but no levity at all.

The movie gets plus points for trying to get its history right; I liked how it highlights the fact that even then, in the late stone- / early bronze age, humankind was already far removed from the nature it still depended upon. A good idea in this respect were some rituals, plus of course the story's MacGuffin, an obsidian shard used for rituals which is kept in a pretty wooden box.

On the minus side, the amount of violence was maybe historically accurate but if you already go the length of portraying a stone age society halfway correctly (including made-up speech), you might as well include the nicer aspects of human life. A few tender looks and embraces during the first five minutes is all we get.

From the technical POV, the production is OK, out of their limited budget they got everything which could be expected and then some - the sets were fine, the costumes great, casting and acting good (nice lengthy cameo by Franco Nero) and of course the spectacular outdoor locations are an asset. Yet in many instances the camera-work stays rather pedestrian, so while the story shares some genes with "The Revenant", the photography is of lower quality (no big deal, Lubezki is a genius and no mistake). There's only two scenes where the pictures really take flight - one chase along a ridge filmed with a drone or cable-camera against spectacular backdrops, really vertigo-inducing that one - and one lengthy sequence where the hero is trapped in a crevasse below the glacier. Both scenes only emphasize that there was a better movie somewhere but it got buried under a too-simple and violent plot.

Recommended all the same, especially for the realistic portrayal of those early societies.
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7/10
Good movie but an uneven experience
21 July 2017
This is a dramedy, containing touching elements as well as funny ones, and most of it is carried off rather well. Omar Sy's acting is up to his part of over-strained and anxious single father, between this and "Chocolat" he's shown that he can be trusted with more serious stuff without problems. Most of the other actors (including the daughter) are equally up to their jobs, with the possible exception of Bertrand's "Bernie" (don't know if it's the actors', director's or writer's fault but that character was neither believable nor funny).

Which brings us to the weakest point - the comedy aspects just don't work that well here, most gags are rather cheap laughs, some not very funny at all - the drama parts are more enjoyable. Recommended all the same!
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8/10
Spectacular SciFi pulls no punches
20 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The first thing you'll observe about Luc Besson's Valerian is how gorgeous it looks, how much work went into the perfect realisation of this world. In a time where nearly every blockbuster features tons of CGI, Valerian stands out and highlights how cheaply the effects are done in most of the other ones.

Next, the sheer inventiveness of designers, artists, set builders, wardrobe and makeup - again, makes us painfully realise how off-the-rack and dull most blockbusters are. Add to that Besson's quirky aesthetics and you're in a world that's nearly overpowering you with its inventiveness, its visual splendour, and also plain fun. I mean, a movie where a Jessica Rabbit cameo doesn't feel forced or out of place, that's just unique.

In my opinion, the optical fireworks were even a bit overdone, some scenes were plainly set up in a certain way to make them more spectacular but didn't really add to the story - an early on action sequence in a half-virtual market comes to mind that would work nearly equally well in a normal bazaar, just without some gags.

As to the story-line - lovers of the books (as I am) will recognise a lot of ingredients and species, and the main set-piece, a space city, is obviously taken from "L'Ambassadeurs des Ombres", but the story itself is a new one and revolves around a planet wiped out in a war about 30 years back, and the repercussions thereof. The "secret" someone wants to keep is not that secret to us, in fact about half an hour into the movie you already have a pretty good idea of what's going on, the joy comes from the detours we're taking on the road to the happy ending, not from silly plot twists.

Now, the characters, Valerian and Laureline: Dane DeHaan looks too young for his part from the comics (where Valerian was the more experienced partner, here he just has a higher degree), Cara Delevingne is perfectly cast, standing her ground with just the right amount of sarcasm and spunk. The team dynamics were as readers know it - Valerian the one who tends to stick to the rules and play by book while Laureline tends to act more impulsively - but both working together really well, be it as a duo or solo. There is a romance angle in the movie that was not taken from the books and feels a bit forced, thankfully it stays marginal and doesn't lessen the overall enjoyment.

And cheers to the screenwriters (Besson, mostly) for not going full in with the stakes. While there's some serious action here - people die and some more might die if V&L didn't succeed - it's actually a rather smallish plot, with just one single villain, and no worlds or even the universe to be saved, just the lives of some innocent bystanders.

Big recommendation for all fans of colourful SciFi and optical fireworks!
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6/10
Refreshing and fun series despite a lot of weak points
30 June 2017
This review is for the entire "Emmanuelle Trough Time" series, "Skin City" being only the first episode of seven. The basic concept of the series is fun and full of potential, some of which even ended up on screen. It's a SciFi/Fantasy tale with sex as the common denominator, much more so than in "Lexx" (which is what it reminds me of strongest). As in Lexx, we have a diverse crew on board a giant vessel traveling through genres (in Lexx, it was planets, here it's parallel dimensions). Their means of travel is a "Transdimensional Transporter" powered by sexual energy - nice idea. And as in Lexx, it's nearly 100% parody or satire - some of it done well, some lame. Overall, I'd say the intelligent and fun parts outweigh the dull ones at a ratio of about 60:40. The performances are surprisingly good (the Twilight spoof "Sexy Bite" even features better acting than the original), and the sex scenes (all pretty tame) were done with a lot of enthusiasm but are also quite over-the-top and played for laughs. This is not masturbational stuff despite most of the actors hailing from porn and a lot of naked skin on screen!

Now, the weak points: - Light and camera are amateurish, much of the stuff looks as if filmed with a smartphone; the cuts to stock or other material don't get smoothed over. This is stupid because you can create good atmosphere with very little money, just some thought and playing around with light.

  • The sound mix is even worse, parts of the stuff sound as if they've never been through a mixer after the recording.


  • The SFX are lame. And I mean, lame even for a very low-budget production as this obviously was.


  • There's a lot of lagging in the stories - basically, you could have told every of those 90 minutes episodes in 60 minutes. The most grating lags are when they use the Transporter - every time, it's 5 minutes (feeling like 10) of gyrating bodies pressed against the machine with a nervously circling camera, epilepsy-inducing light and hammering music. Feel free to fast-forward since there's never any point to it.


  • Lastly, not really a weak point but a critical remark: Allie Haze as the titular Emmanuelle seems too young - for her role in the series (owner of her own TV channel) as well as for the name - "Emmanuelle" was always a young woman, not a girl. Apart from that, Allie is really cute and sexy and seems to have had a lot of fun with the series.


I've rated the series 6/10, that's pretty generous (some of the episodes are definitely worse) - but as mentioned the fun parts outweigh the dull ones, and the good intentions are clearly visible. Only, in the back of my mind, I can see a much more interesting and better-looking result if the same concept and scripts had been realised by a bunch of film students instead of a crew used to shooting porn.
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7/10
A colourful adaption at breakneck speed
13 March 2017
There's no shortage a Musketeers adaptions; this one is a success even if there are some shortcomings. What does work: The overall plot is made very clear, and during confrontations the costumes serve to distinguish the players - so it's easy to follow, even for children. There are some good outdoor shots, and most of the interior sets serve their purpose, too. As to acting, Gene Kelly brings his roguish charms and athletics to d'Artagnan, and he also carries himself well after tragedy strikes. Lana Turner as Charlotte de Winter is equally good, overacting just like warranted by the broad melodram and exhaling just the right amount of menace.

What does not work so good: The other actors pale a bit besides the starring duo, especially Vincent Price as Richelieu is not very menacing, nor do we believe in his intellectual schemer. The music is very in-your-face (just my opinion, of course) and rarely lets the actors work their magic. But the biggest problem is the pace: We hurry from key scene to key scene without a chance to catch some breath, it's so jumpy the plot is in constant danger of getting whiplash syndrome. And said key scenes are also often extremely short - d'Artagnan marries Constance in 5 seconds and gets widowed in 20.

Despite those shortcomings, a hearty recommendation - it's a fun adaption with not a single boring moment.
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Cold Hell (2017)
8/10
Excellent straightforward small-scale actioner
26 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The heroine Özge (Violetta Schurawlow), Turkish-born but living in Vienna, becomes witness to the latest atrocity committed by an international serial killer - now she's next on his list, but she's far from a helpless victim: Besides driving a night taxi (tough job in itself) she's also an accomplished kick-boxer. Her male counterpart in the hunt for the killer is detective Steiner (veteran Tobias Moretti), first reluctant but helpful once he realises the killer really is after Özge. Which doesn't mean the police are any good at all, this being a stalking / female revenge thriller and not a cop one.

"Die Hölle" shines first and foremost through excellent atmosphere and a beautiful rhythm and pace - it starts with two to three bangs so we know it's serious and bloody, then takes itself back to introduce the characters, then there's a first series of bloody scenes - after that a few relaxed minutes with some gentle laughs and even a budding romance, before we get to the bloody and drawn-out showdown. Overall, a very straightforward, fast-paced thriller without any detours.

The urgency of the plot gets fortified by the neat trick of over-straining both Özge and Steiner with family handicaps - he's burdened by (and living with) his demented father, she has to look after her murdered cousin's toddler (really sweet girl, that) because her own parents aren't any good. It also helps that Özge is excellently cast, Violetta Schurawlow has that hard, tough look which carries most of the scenes without many words. Also excellent: make-up and effects. Look for the scene where Özge, having barely survived her first meeting with the killer, stands in front of a mirror and decides to kill him.

Is there something not to like? The camera always stays very close to the protagonists - obviously an intended decision on Ruzowitzky's part but it means that we get very little orientation and much blur during the chase scenes. The romance angle seemed a bit forced; thankfully it stays marginal. Otherwise, I find no faults with "Die Hölle", it even feels a lot less contrived than most thrillers. Highly recommended!
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8/10
Quick-footed comedy with a nice ensemble
19 January 2017
Criticism first: The plot (or "plot") feels contrived and really doesn't make much sense. So, it's a good thing that they didn't care for sense but went for a quick-footed firework of gags instead - a bit like Airplane! from the same year.

Now, the pros: Most of the gags do work, slapstick as well as running gags, funny banter and visual gags. The rhythm is relentless, there's not a boring minute in this movie. But what makes it really shine is the excellent cast with lots of character faces - Gert Fröbe as villain "La baleine", Gordon Mitchell as a grumpy hit-man, Gérard Jugnot as a sideline booking agent, "Khan" the exotic bodyguard, Valerie Mairesse as love interest / police officer "Bunny" - and among them, Pierre Richard in his usual shtick as a harmless guy completely out of his depth but still self-confident to a fault - and chasing every skirt crossing his way while his enemies are dropping like flies. Recommended, just don't expect sense and blood but a lot of good-natured laughs. This really is a nice comedy!
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The Wind in the Willows (1995 TV Movie)
6/10
A decent adaption with room for improvement
31 December 2016
I liked most of the character designs (some of the artwork reminded me of the Rackham illustrations) and the voicework, the music was OK too, never too foreground. The backgrounds in contrast are rather pedestrian and rarely manage to convey the atmosphere of the story. The animation suffers from uneven dynamic.

My biggest nitpick, though, concerns the overall rhythm - some scenes like the Pan episode (which always seemed very central to me) are dealt with in a near offhand way, while Toad's exploits are given too much room (maybe, it's all a matter of taste, of course).

Still recommended as it's surely one of the better adaptions of the book out there (I have to admit I have seen only a few of them, there seem to be more than ten, some rather hard to lay your hands on)
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The Villain (1979)
5/10
Interesting idea, lame execution
30 December 2016
Cactus Jack has all the ingredients for a cool comedy - Hal Needham at the helm, capable actors (Schwarzenegger can be used very effectively in comedies), gorgeous settings, fun costumes and a nice soundtrack - but after an OK start things get more and more repetitive, predictable and, simply, tedious.

The idea of doing a real-life version of a LooneyTunes cartoon is interesting, and Kirk Douglas really tried to breathe some life into his Wile E Coyote, but the dynamic and rhythm are way off - most gags last about five times as long as in the cartoon if not longer - and stretching such a 7 minute cartoon to feature length without adding anything at least resembling a decent story or interesting characters makes Cactus Jack nearly painful to watch.
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6/10
Fun spoof on a zero budget
22 December 2016
My boy and some of his buddies made an agent/SciFi thriller when they were about 13 or 14 ... they had one camera, no money, and little time, but lots of enthusiasm and tinfoil, and the product was not very painful to watch if you belonged to the family. "Monarch of the Moon" is even better! No, seriously - although the low budget is clearly visible (sometimes in a painful way), "Monarch of the Moon" manages to circumvent most traps such productions use to fall into. The sets and FX are cheap but have a consistent quality and look; and the pacing is quick - no scene feels drawn-out.

The only trap they fell into is bad acting - if you're spoofing something so inherently funny as those old serials, the best thing you can do is try to catch the tone and play it straight - it doesn't get funnier by deliberate bad acting. And a minor gripe: The sound mix could use some fine-tuning. Bot overall, a charming mix of spoof and nostalgia which stays entertaining from start to finish.
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8/10
Very straightforward SciFi action movie
15 December 2016
I you're reading this review, you're probably a Star Wars fan anyway, so I don't need to recommend it, but I felt very satisfied with this surprisingly lean addition to the Star Wars universe!

It's the most SF-ish of all the Star Wars movies - no princesses, no magic swords, prophecies or whatever - and it's extremely straightforward: no side quests, no twists, not even a romance. There's little humour or funny one-liners, most of those thanks to droid K-2SO; I don't know if that's a good thing, I have to watch it again someday to see if this droid doesn't get grating. The straightforward approach also means that we have very little in the way of character development or political or historical background but I didn't miss those ingredients much, the move was so entertaining. This is, from start to finish, an actioner.

Production design and SFX are very good, the Star Wars universe feels lived in and many characters and places have a realistic touch about them. The action sequence at the end goes on for maybe a few minutes too long, but never gets boring at least upon first viewing. And the whole story expands very nicely upon Episode 4's "history", probably makes watching the original "Star Wars" nearly a new experience. In fact, I don't know why this movie is set apart from the "main" SW movies at all, it's not apart in any meaningful manner but should really be called something like "Episode 3.9".
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Cipolla Colt (1975)
7/10
Worth a watch - a "different" Western comedy.
11 December 2016
This B movie stands out among similar western comedies by the absurd, sometimes quite Pythonesque humour. Franco Nero would not be the first name that comes to mind for such a production (nor the second, or third), but he does very well as the Terrence Hill stand-in; his wide blue-eyed stare conveys both innocence and mischief, and he does fine in the slapstick sequences too. His "hero" role is complemented by a diverse bunch of side characters, not well-known but well-cast. The sets and camera-work are good, too. The music covers the complete gamut of italo-westerns and then a bit more, a little crazy like the whole movie. The pacing is quick, there's not a single boring moment in Cipolla Colt.

The only drawback to this otherwise nice comedy is the generic plot (an oil magnate trying to grab poor farmer's land); with action that absurd the movie would have deserved some crazier story, too. Apart from that, recommended for anyone not put off by absurd humour.
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Wild (I) (2016)
8/10
Going native, in a hurry
9 December 2016
A very simple story - a young woman, trapped in boring day-to-day business and restrictions, chances upon a lone wolf in a park near her home. This fact alone changes her demeanor - she now has a purpose and some spirit - but when she manages to catch the beast a few days later, things become serious as she starts not only to overcome, but to completely lose the reigns of civilised behaviour.

The motif of man stripping away his (more or less) thin coat of civilisation is not exactly new, but it's very seldom used - a recent example the not-so-successful adaption of Ballard's "High-Rise" - but the film nearest to "Wild" would probably be the Michel Piccoli-starrer "Themroc" from the early 70s. I'd say "Wild" is the best of those three - it keeps its focus on the protagonist (like Themroc) but has just enough outside world left to stay interesting. Also, it has humour - it's no comedy, but there are quite a lot of snickering moments spread throughout the crisp running time.

"Wild" is a low-budget production - since the story is focused on very few people and sets, that's no big problem, but it is told in such an ambitious manner that I wished the production design and especially camera work had a bit more class - as it is, "Wild" seems rather pedestrian despite the outrageous plot, often like a TV production. I also felt the whole thing rushed, the atavism happens very fast once things get rolling.

Despite the shortcomings, I rated it 8/10: The lead actress is enchanting, the wolf (or wolves, two were used for the production, probably the biggest budget point) is terrific, there are a lot of interesting scenes, and the story is extremely quick-footed. That the ending may not seem very satisfactory to some is inherent to the "genre" - once you're back to primitive, free from society, there's really nothing more left to tell, is it?

conclusion: You could argue for hours about the metaphors and meanings which play into "Wild", but even taken just at face value, it's still a powerful, entertaining and thought-provoking low-budget production. Recommended!
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