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djw180

Sarajevo (2014)

An Austrian film about an investigation into the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in Sarajevo, June 1914, and how that became the pretext to the First World War.

 

In many ways this is to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand what JFK was to the assassination of president Kennedy. The main character, Pfeffer, is an investigating magistrate who is told to carry out a quick investigation to give the Austrian government proof that a group of Bosnian-Serb anarchists carried out the murder with backing from the Serbian government so that Austria, and their German allies, have the justification to start a war. But though Pfeffer soon has confessions from Gavrilo Princip and his co-conspirators he also uncovers evidence of Austrian and German agents behind it all, putting the assassins in the right place at the right time and the Archduke in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know enough about the history of this period to know what actual evidence there is to support this. But I am aware there are some historians who at least think it very suspicious that the unpopular Franz Ferdinand (unpopular amongst the ruling elite as by the standards of the day he was quite progressive for a European heir to the throne) happened to find himself attacked and killed after surviving a failed assassination attempt earlier the very same day, and that attack able to provide the justification for a war with Serbia that we know Aurstria-Hungary wanted and a war with Russia, Serbia's ally, that we know Germany wanted.

 

It's a decent enough film. It has historical merit in making you think about an import period of world history in a different way, whatever the actual truth is. 7/10

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Downton Abbey Based on what I know about the films most people here like I think the best way to summarize this is, it's not as bad as you think, it's worse! Even if you were interested in this s

I wish I could write reviews like you guys.  Had a rare occasion of the wife not being here today so after my usual Sunday ebaying and the grand pr*ck I fancies a couple of films.  Started w

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Birds of Prey. 

It was a couple weeks ago and was the last movie I watched, good movie, worth watching if Harley Quinn is your thing. Margot Robbie is perfect for the part.

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The funniest thing about this particular signature is that by the time you realise it doesn't say anything it's to late to stop reading it.

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Squirrel

This is something completely different as it’s not a studio produced film but instead its made by an editing genius who specialises in mash up films. 
 

He’s mainly done short films but he’s just released a feature length film heavily inspired by Jurassic Park but combined with heavily edited footage from Rambo, Predator, Kickboxer and many other films. 
 

Something like this has never been tried on this scale before and it’s an interesting watch

Dinosaur Hunters.

Full 2 hour film free here:

https://youtu.be/Ec3zChFuAWw

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djw180

Outlaw King (2018)

Another film I nearly didn't watch due to the poor Netflix summary of it. If they had described this as a historical film about Robert the Bruce I may have watched it before now, but they neglected to mention who this was about.

This sort of follows on from where the story in Braveheart finished (not that the productions are related). As far as I could tell, and I'm no expert, it's reasonably historically accurate. It certainly conveys the deep and bitter rivalries within the early 14th century Scottish aristocracy. Many Scottish lords preferred to be ruled by the king of England than see one of their Scottish rivals as King. Speaking of the king of England, Edward I, like Braveheart and other portrayals this is, I feel, a little harsh on him. Medieval Kings, Dukes, Earls etc where meant to expand their lands at the expense of neighbours and rivals, if the opportunity arose, it's just what you did in medieval times. Anyway it's a good film if you're into medieval history, probably enjoyable even if you're not. Lots of fighting, quite gruesome at times, with good performances.

 

7/10

 

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djw180

Viking Destiny (2018)

An awful script, generally poor acting (but what can actors do with such bad lines?), bad direction and at times ridiculous costumes (“Viking” helmets that look like badly fitted gimp masks). A truly dreadful film that only my stubbornness and the fact that I haven't given a film a low score for a while kept me watching past the first 10 minutes. The rather banal, fairly run-of-the-mill, story is a Viking princess is robbed of her inheritance by her evil uncle who seizes the throne that should be hers. She escapes to the forests where she eventually finds a group of 'travellers' to befriend, some loyal soldiers find her, they take on her Uncle and win the kingdom back. Don't think of this as in any way historical, it's really a fantasy. The only good bits come from Terrance Stamp (what the hell was he doing getting involved with this?) and Murray McArthur as Odin and Loki, gods that encourage / manipulate the mortals to do their will. But they are not in it enough. The fight scenes are more like a really bad martial arts movie with unnecessary acrobatics, slow motion and close ups.

I see from some reviews on IMDB people defending this as a good for a low-budget film. But whilst the low budget can explain sets, costumes, props etc, that aren't as good as in big budget films, it can't excuse the script, acting and direction.

 

2/10.

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djw180

Mrs Lowry & Son (2019)

Directed by Adrian Noble with Vanessa Redgrave and Timathy Spall giving great performances in the title roles. This is a story of one of Britain's greatest painters, LS Lowry but set in just a couple of years in the mid 1930s when he was on the verge of his talent being recognised.

 

As a middle aged man, he lives with his mother in the heart of a Lancashire industrial town. His father had died a number of years earlier leaving behind debts. The elderly Mr Lowry is quite snobbish, regrets her marriage to a man she now regards as below her social class, and does nothing at all to encourage her son, holding him back all the time. Their lives are quite mundane. The son goes out to work, collecting rent money from the factory and mine workers he would eventually become famous for painting. He returns at the same time each evening to cook for his mother who spends her day in bed doing not much at all but keenly watching, disapprovingly, their neighbours. He then spends what free time he has painting, usually scenes of the factories and people he sees in the streets nearby. Mrs Lowry really is an unlikeable character. On the one hand you can feel sympathy for an elderly women, not mobile enough to leave the house, and utterly dependent on her son, who she clearly fears might leave her one day. But on the other hand by the standards of the day they have a reasonably nice house, enough food to eat, money left over for a few luxuries etc. And she actually has nothing to fear, her son is totally devoted to her and ultimately says he only paints for her. She discourages his painting. When he gets a chance to exhibit his work in London she practically orders him to turn down the offer. When a neighbour offers to buy one of his paintings she again orders him to refuse, even though she is always asking him to do more to pay off their debts, and he almost destroys all his painting because of this latest argument. The film concludes after this giving us a summary of what happened next. Mrs Lowry died, a London exhibition of LS Lowry's work was finally put on in 1939 and his talent properly recognised. It ends with modern day scenes of visitors to the Lowry Gallery in Salford.

 

This was my wife's choice of film and I'm not sure I would have picked to watch it myself. It is very good, if you're into art and artists and their history, but with one very dislikeable character, albeit played brilliantly, it's never going to be one of my all time favourites. It's not the story of artist LS Lowry, but as the title says the story of the relationship between a mother and son.

 

7/10

 

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LimeGreenLegend

A quick trio of horror films for Halloween, especially for @Con😉 

Vampyr

dir. Carl Theodore Dreyer/1932/1h13m

Vampyr, German poster art, Sybille Schmitz, Maurice Schutz, 1932' Art Print  - | Art.com

Vampyr is the first sound film made by Carl Theodore Dreyer after his silent era career peaked with the incredible The Passion of Joan of Arc.  It stars Nicolas de Gunzburg as Allen Gray, a lone wanderer in a strange town.  De Gunzberg was not an actor, instead he was a rich socialite who wanted to be in a film, and when he met Dreyer in Paris he convinced the famous director to work with him.  Due to his lack of acting ability, Dreyer told him to perform like he was in a dream, keeping his face emotionless and his speech and actions slowed down.  This was to match the dreamlike feeling of the movie, but for me it doesn't work because he brings nothing to the film.  I'm a huge fan of the films of Yorgos Lanthimos who also directs his actors to perform with less emotion, but here the lack of experience takes me out of the film and I just couldn't empathise with him.  

The plot sees Gray arriving in a small village where he soon witnesses strange visions of shadows dancing across walls and strange old people in the fog.  There is a murder in a manor house, and the revelation about strange creatures called vampires.  Gray manages to kill the head vampire and, in the final scene, the evil doctor who was helping the creatures is drowned in flour in a mill in quite a chilling finale.  The plot is very thin, but this film is all about atmosphere and visuals, like most early sound films are; the conventions and practices of the silent era still being used.  The scene with the disembodied shadows was genuinely scary, but the general mood is more unsettling than anything else.  

I thought this was decent, but is very much in the shadow of earlier, better films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.  I still think it is worth watching, especially for horror buffs, as it is a film from one of the legends of the early period of the artform, and has many great scenes.  But for me it is a bit too slow and ethereal to feel like a threat. 7/10 
 

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Little Joe

dir. Jessica Hausner/2019/1h45m

New trailer and poster for Jessica Hausner's 'Little Joe' with Emily  Beecham, Ben Whishaw

Little Joe is a British horror film from Jessica Hausner starring Emily Beecham in a Canne Film Festival best actress award winning role.  Beecham plays Alice, a plant breeder working in a lab creating new strains of flowers.  One of these new flowers needs much more care and attention than other plants, but it rewards its carer by making them happy.  She calls them Little Joe, after her son who she is raising on her own.  After taking one home for her son she soon becomes overcome with paranoia, starting to think that the plants are infecting and controlling people.  

This is another slow burn of a film, but one which I found more satisfying than Vampyr.  The film is full of very static long takes of starkly sterile rooms which are blotted with bright flashes of colour; the reds and yellows of the flowers, the eerie purple light in Alice's home.  This is a film very much in debt to Kubrick not only in the way it is shot, but also the soundtrack which is made up of a lot of strange ambient noise which ratchets the tension up every time it is heard.  The performances are also solid all round, for the most part.  Beecham is great as the lead, slowly starting to lose her grip on reality as she doubts everything she sees.  Ben Whishaw plays a co-worker of Alice who may or may not be infected, and he is great at playing someone on the edge of being creepy, but you can't say why.  

This film really bought to mind old 50s sci-fi like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Day of the Triffads, sifting those themes through a modern lens.  It is a very subtle horror film that will give you goosebumps without you knowing why.  It will ask for your patience but rewards you with a quietly chilling ending that will make you feel infested yourself.  8/10

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House

dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi/1977/1h28m

the cosmos of enlightened vision (japanese psych horror--equal parts  sunshine and gore!) | Japanese movie poster, Horror posters, Movie posters  design

House is a Japanese horror-comedy directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, and is a madcap haunted house story.  The plot sees a teenage girl called Gorgeous taking her friends to stay at her aunt's house after falling out with her father and new step-mother.  Once there, Gorgeous and her friends encounter a series of surreal monsters who dispatch the girls in a number of gory and grisly ways.  This film must have been a favourite of Sam Raimi because it feels like The Evil Dead crossed with an episode of Scooby Doo.  

On a technical level this isn't a good film.  But when it comes to over-the-top cheesy fun then you can't go much wrong here.  Just watch the trailer below and see what I mean.  This film has an evil cat, a piano that eats people, a flood of blood, and I'm pretty sure that at the end a man turns into a pile of bananas.  The mostly non-professional cast aren't what you'd call good actors, but they are full of energy and bounce around the screen like kid's tv presenters and really propel the film forward with their energy.

This feels like the Rocky Horror Picture Show of Japanese horror films.  A midnight treat that you watch with your friends and a few beers, laughing along at the madness that you're seeing on screen.  If you're a horror fan then I can see this becoming a Halloween tradition, a zany, colourful counterpoint to the classics of the genre like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 8.5/10

 

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djw180

The Three Musketeers (2011)

 

I've seen many film or TV versions of this classic story, as I'm sure most people have. I never read the original book but I'm pretty sure it was not much like this film other than the very basic plot. It's done with action sequences and special effects that are out of place in the era it is set in, a bit like Pirates of the Caribbean or Wild Wild West, and to me in this film they are just a bit too silly. If you want to make a film with air ships battling each other then set it at a time when they had air ships or make it sci-fi / fantasy set on another planet. What is the point of having that sort of thing happen in a film based on a classic novel set in late 17th century France? Then again maybe when Alexander Dumas wrote the original novel he was just using the technology of the time, i.e. books, to bring the action of sword fights, daring adventurers narrowly escaping death etc. to his readers and who is to say he would not have made full use of Hollywood special effects had he been a film director 150 years later?

 

It does have a generally great cast including Christopher Walz as a very good Cardinal Richleau, along with Orlando Bloom, Mathew Mcfadden and Mila Jovavich. But then again the actor playing D'Artagnan appeared to be attempting a Keanu Reave's impression for the entire film; maybe he got confused by some of the fight scenes that seemed to come straight out of The Matrix? There were other film similarities as well, and it's fine to pay homage to other films, but they just came across as a bit unoriginal here, e.g. Athos' appearance at the beginning looking exactly like Batman jumping off a building with his cape allowing him to glide to the ground. It did also look very good with very good costumes and sets.

 

So although it has it's poor aspects and I wouldn't recommend paying to see it, it is reasonably enjoyable to watch if it comes for free with a subscription service you have, and as such I'm on the fence giving this 5/10.

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Con

Dope Sick Love (2005)...4/5...Documentary that follows two heroin/crack/cocaine addicted NYC couples around for 18 months. We see how they hustle for drug money and just how much the drugs have taken over their lives. There is no music and no interviews, we just follow these four people the entire time. I did not realize it was from 2005 as it felt so 2019. I've seen stuff like this before so nothing was overly shocking, except perhaps cleaning the heroin needle with public toilet water. I mean, come on dude, all you had to do was stand up and use the hand sinks. But that is the rawness you will see in this doc...I like how they all start with caring about their appearance for the cameras and even wash their hands but by the end of it, they don't even care about cleanliness within themselves and never mind the needles. It's a horrific look into these couples and how im super glad I never thought trying heroin or crack was a good idea. There were no 'best moments' in this, even as we are fooled that one of them wants to go clean. Why should you watch this? You never tried heroin in your life and you have a feeling it will be offered to you sooner or later. 

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Fantastic Fungi (2019)...5/5...Phenomenal documentary about Fungi. If all you know about fungi is that it's what mushrooms are made from, well I implore you to watch this amazing documentary about the genius mycellium that rules our planet, probably our universe. I learned not just about the organism but also how it helps the ecosystems communicate to keep everything in harmony. I learned about just how much mushrooms can help not just our bodies but the planet. Using mushrooms to clean ocean oil spills. Using mushrooms to create biodegradable packaging. I also learned about the revival that is coming regarding psychodelic drugs such as magic mushrooms and how in the 60s-70s the research was obstructed due to these substances of mind expansion getting a bad name as they were associated with creating lazy hippies that did not want to die for bullsh*t Vietnam War and is the only reason a f*cking Schedule 1 Drug list was created. Again, more deception by the government to control. I am now looking into mushroom therapy thanks to this documentary and I also have an even better outlook about mortality too. Why should you watch it? You get moist whenever you hear the word...Mushroom and should know that there is more to them than putting them on the occasional pizza. 

 

 

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djw180

Dogma (1999) directed by Kevin Smith.

 

 

This Saturday night I gave my wife a selection of films from our own DVD collection to choose from and this was her choice. I was very happy. This is one of my all time favourite films and certainly, in my opinion, Kevin Smith's best. I would class it a modern fantasy and comedy. It's a critique of organised religion without being too serious and certainly not atheistic. It stars most of the usual Kevin Smith crowd with some other big names, with great performances all round.

 

The basic story is of two fallen angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartelby (Ben Affleck) who have spent thousands of years banished to Earth, specifically Wisconsin, after a fall out with God. But they have discovered a way to get back to Heaven. The Catholic Church in New Jersey is re-branding it's self. Out goes Jesus on the cross, in comes 'Buddy Christ' and as a special, one time only offer, anyone who passes through the doors to the Cathedral on the launch day automatically gets all their sins forgiven. So all the Angels have to do is become human, which apparently angels can do by cutting off their wings, go through those doors, then die and it's a one way ticket back to paradise. The first problem with this though is their banishment was decreed by God (eventually played by Alanis Morrisette). To return to Heaven will un-make a law passed by God and as the whole existence of the Universe depends on her infallible word, to do this will make the Universe pop out of existence. Next problem is God herself is currently AWOL having not returned from a visit to Earth, in the more familiar form of an old man, to visit a sea-side amusement arcade.

 

But other residents of Heaven are on the case. The archangel Gabriel, a brilliant performance from the late, great, Alan Rickman , visits Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), a church-going Catholic abortion clinic worker, who happens to be a direct descendant of one of Jesus' siblings, to tell her she must save the day. Next day having met Kevin Smith film regulars Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (the director himself) in pretty much the manner Garbriel told her she would, she accepts her duty in kind of 'oh, well, I had nothing better planned so why not' sort of manner.

 

Bethany lives in a small town in Illinois. Jay and Silent Bob are there having gone looking for the town where Howard Deutch's iconic 80s films like Pretty In Pink and Weird Science are set – the many film references are one of the thing I love about Dogma. I want to resist simply describing the entire plot, because this is one of those films I could easily do that for. So lets just say they set off for New Jersey and are soon joined by Rufus (Chris Rock), the 13th disciple of Jesus who got written out of the Bible because he was black (and so was Jesus, but he couldn't really be left out so 'they' made him white) and Serendipity (Salma Hayek), another angel-type supernatural being currently working as a stripper. They also meet Loki and Bartelby on route without realising who there are, at first. A renegade demon, Azreal (Jason Lee), turns out to be behind the whole thing. He actually wants existence to end because that's better than living in Hell or Heaven. It culminates with the two angels going on a final killing spree (Loki was the Angel of Death before his falling out with God) , flying around dropping people to their deaths, so that after becoming mortal and passing through the cathedral doors the police will do the job of sending them to heaven.

 

Obviously it all turns out well in the end, God finally makes her appearance, and the Universe carries on.

 

I think one of the reasons I like this so much, apart from really liking most Kevin Smith films, is he clearly has gone through the same sort of being-brought-up-in-a-church-going-family experience that I have and come to the same conclusions about organised religion. The cast is very good, as well as the already mentioned Alan Rickman, I think Alanis Morrisette is great as God. The image of her playfully skipping around the church garden, picking flowers and attempting to do handstands is wonderful. It's a good length film at 2hrs 10 mins with a plot that never seems to pause for long and takes some interesting turns and make good points about religion without being preachy about it. It also has some good special effects, when required, without them overshadowing the other aspects of the film, for example the angel wings and rightly with about a dozen people specifically named in the credits.

 

Obviously I give this 10/10.

 

Edited by djw180
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Con

Antebellum (2020)...3/5...I watched this with no clue what it was about. It was very compelling at the very start as we only get the setting and clues as to some beneath the surface happenings and i think that is when the film works best because once everything is revealed, while not improbable to think it could  happen, I think elements of the reveal just lets it down. The communication device scene was just so damn mind-bending, I could literally feel the synapses in  my brain trying to figure out what was going on and that part was very cool. I think there was a real good story about abduction in there but it kind of falls apart when you realize we could have been let in on stuff earlier. I think it was a good effort but is hurt by not considering the few simple things that could have totally blew up the secret. Why should you watch it? You want to see something truly terrifying that probably did occur to human beings, especially immediately after one side lost and did not want to relinquish their old way of life.

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#Alive (2020)...2/5...Low budget but great-looking zombie film that is set in basically one location, an apartment building in a city that has been overtaken by yet another virus that turns your neighbors into hungry monsters. There are some decent moments but I found it lackluster and kind of predictable. The cinematography is vibrant and contrasts with the dread of the situation our protagonists find themselves in and probably is the best part of the film. I don't know, I guess I just didn't like that I felt I would have done more in that same situation. They emphasize early on that this dude is a serious streamer but even when there is still internet, I don't know how that was ever useful. They could have made it so that he was showing people how to survive through his stream and then the internet cuts off...I don't know and that call to his parents....been there, done that. Why should you watch this? Your other option is watching Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula. I rather watch #Alive three times in a row than watch Peninsula ever again. 

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pete_95973

My wife and I are watching horror movies all this month and we watched "In the tall grass" which is based on a Stephen King novel.  I rarely dislike anything by Stephen King but I didn't like this one.   First 20 mins were intriguing and then it just got weird and confusing.  5/10 stars

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Con

The Invisible Man (2020)...3/5...Effective invisible man re-imagining for our modern time. The brilliance and simplicity of some of those shots of empty spaces are nerve-wrecking because no doubt, they will have you  looking for the invisible man...staring deeply for any signs...whether a curtain moving or just nothing happening, my mind was totally seeing stuff. lol. That was the best part in my opinion, being a participant not just watching a screen. The story works from the controlling boyfriend angle. I think Elisabeth Moss did an amazing job as Cecilia, she has to carry so many emotions and she did outstanding. There are some flaws in logic, like the person trying to hide actually receiving MAIL at the "secret" location, did she forget that a Billionaire is stalking her? And also things fall apart once we see Invisible Man things happen in public and like in another film I recently reviewed above, a quick scan of any CCTV surveillance footage and both films would come to a halt. Why should you watch it? Some of those static shots and camera moves rival some of the best horror films and you really, really like testing your powers of observation. 

 

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