dierregi

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Reviews

Russian Doll
(2019)

Entertaining but disintegrating in series 2
As most reviewers, I found series 1 watchable and entertaining enough, despite main character Nadia being a rather annoying character. Still, the re-birth after each gruesome death had an element of black humor and suspense, and the Alan character moved the plot forward, towards an end that was simplistic to the point of stupidity, but wrapped up the series nicely.

Obviously it would be quite difficult for everyone to understand that at some stage the purpose of life could be saving a perfect stranger who appeared for a few seconds in the background, but whatever... as Nadia would say.

However, series 2 is a different animal altogether. Gone is the humour, the consistency and the indispensable presence of Alan. What happens is a sequence of random time trips back to the 80s and 1944, during which we further discover what an eminently dislikable character Nadia's mother is, glued with a useless side plot of Alan in East Berlin in the 60s. Each and every episode suffers from considerable randomness and Nadia trying too hard to be funny cracking silly jokes and chain smoking. Is the show sponsored by tobacco companies?

A Perfect Murder
(1998)

Forget Hitch
This thriller gets a fairer chance when not compared to the classic "Dial M for Murder", even if it's a sort of remake. As a self-standing film, it has a pretty decent plot of a game of cat and mouse, played in New York high-society, and in which nobody is completely innocent.

Young Emily has a lot of money, a much older husband, a hot young lover, a wardrobe to die for and a luxurious apartment with stunning view on Central Park. After months of carrying out in secret, Emily wants to come clear and get a divorce, except her husband is in financial trouble and he is planning a better way out for himself.

Shot in luxurious settings, so slick that even the poor lover's loft looks stylish, the plot is pretty tight and works well almost until the end, when hubby makes a faux pas, quite out of character. Still, eminently watchable.

L'amore è eterno finché dura
(2004)

Predictable platitude
Verdone plays the older version of himself, as an hypochondriac optometrist who tries speed dating because his marriage is on the rocks, only to be discovered by his wife, who's cheating herself.

The big question of the movie would be if it is possible to start a new life after fifty and the answer is predictably positive. However, this is misogynistic Italy, therefore the optometrist starts his life anew with a companion twenty years younger, because women of his age are so definitely unsexy.

Russian Doll: Exquisite Corpse
(2022)
Episode 5, Season 2

Lost in translation
The lowest point so far of an unnecessary second series. After her useless trip to Budapest, Nadia finds herself in the year 1944, back in Budapest and trying to save her grandma possessions only to find out that she cannot change the past, except she did in the previous series, therefore the rules have changed but she was not informed... or something.

Also, this series must be sponsored by tobacco companies, because Nadia is chain smoking and littering non-stop with her cigarette butts thrown here, there and everywhere. I guess setting on fire a warehouse packed full with wooden crates is not even crossing Nadia's mind, she's focussed only on the Krugerrands.

Better Call Saul: Axe and Grind
(2022)
Episode 6, Season 6

Stretched so thin, the plot has disappeared
Strictly for the hardcore BCS and BB fans, which at this stage fill exactly the definition of "fanatics" and praise this show regardless.

Anybody who follows BCS for whatever reason would know by now that Kim and Jim/Saul have a very verbose marriage, albeit based on slippery ground and that Kim is now the queen of the show and bent on a winding, deranged revenge plan on Howard, for reasons hard to understand - apart from stretching a thin plot -. This part of the show is indescribably tedious, but we get a load of it in this episode.

Anybody also knows that Mike loves his grand-daughter but that is quite tedious, too and yet here comes another stretch of the loving granddad. The episode is padded by "artsy" camera work, more background on Kim shady past as a shoplifter and a whole sequence about Howard getting ready for work. Lalo appears and disappears in the weird German side plot, far away from his revenge - again, to stretch the plot. And the fans applaud 👏🏻

Home at Seven
(1952)

Verbose
It starts with the overused but intriguing convenient amnesia episode, with Dave, a man who arrives home after an ordinary day of work at the bank, only to discover that he has lost a full 24 hours. His loving wife on the brink of despair tells him that he left Monday morning as usual, only to come back Tuesday evening.

From then on the plot develops in the most verbose way. Dave, the bank clerk is visited by a sympathetic doctor at home and advised to take a day off, then on Wednesday morning he discovers that a murder was committed on Monday night and he could be the guilty part.

There follows a hundred explanations between Dave and his wife, Dave and his neighbour, Dave and the police inspector and more with the doctor, a lawyer and so on. A very un-cinematic movie, due to the fact that it was a theatrical release (I think I read somewhere) but could as well have been a radio play, with little tension, despite the good premise and the excellent cast.

Motherless Brooklyn
(2019)

Doesn't deliver
I learnt this movie is based on a novel reading other reviews and but I did not think it's interesting enough to spend more time reading it. Ed Norton, who used to be the golden boy of fine acting, plays Lionel, a guy with Tourette who works as a PI for a small agency managed by his mentor Frank.

Given his condition, Lionel is a rather solitary man, generally considered dimwitted, but when Frank gets killed, Lionel decides to find out who's behind the murder and a complicated plot develops, involving gentrification, unscrupulous businessmen and the Harlem jazz scene of the 50s. Way too much material, that manages at best to create a decent atmosphere but dilutes the plot excessively.

Norton does the Tourette thing quite well, but this condition is distracting and mostly annoying and does not add anything to the plot, except that a girl Lionel fancy just doesn't mind at all and that makes her the perfect love interest, spreading a thick layer of wokeness over the entire proceeds.

Hell or High Water
(2016)

Soporific
Two brothers rob branches of the same Texan bank with the purpose of saving their mother's ranch from being repossessed by the bank. It may seem a wickedly cute idea, but it turns out quite stupid. One brother is your standard bad guy with a heart of gold, the other is the good, silent type. On their tail, a couple of ageing Texan rangers.

The plot is so banal as to include a "last robbery" for the thieves and a "last job before retiring" for one ranger. The only mildly interesting think may be the photography of the harsh, immense territory where society seems to be crumbling apart with houses for sale in the middle of nowhere, abandoned villages and business gone bust. The mood is sombre, but in a "been there, done that" kind of way.

One of the two rangers is played by Jeff Bridges in a role that would have suited TommyLee Jones, grumpy and gruff, mumbling his words as if he has a toothache. The Bridges character is the one on the brink of retirement, but it looks more like he should have retired way earlier, being slow, overweight and out of breath after a couple of steps. Really sad to see him like that.

Man on the Run
(1949)

Deserters
This is the one and only movie I saw (and I saw many) tackling the theme of deserters. Main character Peter is one of them, a guy who used to be a good soldier but felt compelled to run AWOL after four years of war because his father died in a raid and his mother and sister needed his presence.

Peter is working as a bartender in a remote corner of England when an ex-comrade happens to pass by and tries to blackmail him. Peter moves to London, where life is difficult and expensive, and while trying to pawn his weapon he gets involved in an attempted robbery. He's only a witness but the police are chasing him.

Attractive widow Jean comes to his help and the plot develops nicely, albeit in a slightly forced way towards a suitable ending. The interesting part is the perspective of deserters, considered both from a negative and less negative point of view and just for that, the movie deserves some extra points.

Candlelight in Algeria
(1944)

Enjoyable
Maybe be a piece of fluffy propaganda, but it's an enjoyable adventure movie, with a suitable spunky American heroine and a charming British spy. Part of the plot takes place in Alger Casbah, like Pépé le Moko but on a smaller scale. A sweet but determined French girl named Yvette makes an impression, thanks to her small role of the doomed lover.

Strategia del ragno
(1970)

Only for the masochistic
A left wing intellectual trying to make a movie out of a Borges short tale? The results are a mighty, un-filmable disaster of epic proportions. Obviously, if the director had disappeared after this, we wouldn't even be discussing this ... but he didn't, so we must find value and depth in a preposterous piece of c***p.

Confidence
(2003)

Convoluted but interesting neo-noir
It's a given fact that the plot of Confidence is convoluted, but it is surprising that the audience complains about this, when contemporary taste has been trained to expect plot twists.

What I liked, more than the twist, is the neo-noir atmosphere of the movie: you get a flawed hero with Jake and a femme fatale with Lily, plus a group of interesting characters, all suspicious and some downright unpleasant like King.

I admit that some parts of the plot are forced and the success of the long con is based on way too much chance, also Edward Burns'Jake is perhaps a bit too smooth, considering the situation he is in, but the script is an almost perfect mechanism and it is a pleasure to watch a movie that delivers.

Pépé le Moko
(1937)

For the love of Paris
The titular Pépé is a Parisian gangster, Paris being the key word, forced to hide in the Casbah quarter of Algiers. The exotism of the setting is mitigated by the fact that for Pépé, after two years, the Casbah is little more than a large, open air prison with view on the sea.

The police is just waiting for Pépé to get out of the Casbah, where he's sheltered and protected by the locals, especially Ines, but even if Pépé dreams constantly of Paris, he's stay sheltered until the moment when sly police inspector Slimane brings to the Casbah alluring Parisian Gaby.

Pépé is struck by a burning passion for Gaby, who reminds him about the lively lifestyle of Paris and does not even notice the copious amount of jewellery that the woman wears.

What follows is inevitable, give human nature and it is narrated in a minimalist way, using dialogue that is wittier and more relevant than most of the stuff written today. Not surprisingly this film is considered a classic, because that is what it is.

Convoy
(1940)

Undecided between war movie and sophisticated comedy
I've been watching several British WWII movies and among the bunch this is the worst. It involves fictional ships and U-boats and you can clearly see that the battle scenes were shot probably in somebody's bathroom.

It was made in 1940 and it was a difficult moment for Britain, it definitely looks and feel like a propaganda movie. The main plot concerns Armitage, the captain of a British destroyer, his estranged wife Lucy and her alleged lover who happens to be assigned to Armitage's ship.

This love triangle is treated in a very sophisticated and civilised way, helped by the fact that Lucy is played by a sophisticated beauty.

In the midst of this, the Germans manage to attack the titular convoy and cause some havoc but the British keep a stiff upper lip despite the losses.

The Cruel Sea
(1953)

Believable
Another good WWII British movie that follows the life of a bunch of sailors and officials embarked on the Compass Rose, a small escort for convoys.

The men are not "heroic" in an excessive, unbelievable way, but try to do their best in difficult conditions. The captain is the only experienced officer and his second in command will have to learn the trade the hard way.

Personal stories are explored with a light, realistic touch, showing how cruel and senseless the war can be wiping away indiscriminately people on the brink of a marriage and others living through major marital crisis.

Sailors and civilians die, difficult decisions must be taken and one can survive the horrors only thinking it is one's duty to do their best for the collective effort.

Diaboliquement vôtre
(1967)

Laughable
Only worth watching if you appreciate some eye candy in the shape of young and attractive Alain Delon and Senta Berger.

The plot is about amnesiac George who after a terrible car crash from which he recovered without any bruise or visible sign, apart from a sprained ankle, is sent home to recover.

'Home' is a mighty isolated mansion where George lives with wifey Christiane and shady Chinese servant Kim. George and Christiane are just back from Hong Kong, where they made a ton of money and their only visitor is their 'friend' Freddie.

By now you'll know that this is a relatively cheap production, employing only 4 actors (albeit a couple of big names) and a few extras for a few scenes and taking place almost exclusively in the creepy mansion.

Delon is an unconvincing George. While thinking his real name may be Pierre Lagrange, George's only purpose seems to be getting into Christiane's pants. Talk about the French being obsessed with sex... It takes a while for dumb George to realize that the 'medicine' wifey and pal force down his throat might not be so curative after all.

Given the setting, one can see the denouement coming a long time away, the only question mark being if Christiane will make it, while 'George" undoubtedly should.

San Demetrio London
(1943)

Compelling
It might have been a piece of propaganda made during WWII, but for sure this movie based on real events is compelling enough with its portrayal of normal people facing extremely hard conditions.

The San Demetrio, carrying highly inflammable fuel is bombed during the Battle of the Atlantic and the captain orders the abandon ship. Some unfortunate crew members spend two nights in a lifeboat, in freezy weather and then the current takes them back to their ship, still on fire but possibly not about to explode.

They decide to go back on board and face the risk because they cannot face the harsh conditions on the lifeboat and somehow they make it back.

The plot is a celebration of unsung, normal heroes, the type of people who do their job and just hope to make it, without any feeling of arrogance or super-heroic fake events.

Night Boat to Dublin
(1946)

Slow burner
During the last days of WWII, a Danish scientist is suspected to be working with the Nazis even if he is known for his anti-Hitler stance. Two intelligence officers discover a track leading to a relevant information leaki n Ireland and embark on the faithful night boat to Dublin. Only one is going to return with a plan to capture the spies... and he will even get married to keep his cover.

The plot, characters, and acting are engaging enough to keep you watching until dénouement.

The Teckman Mystery
(1954)

Would-be Hitchcock, but far from it
Writer Philip Chance meets attractive Helen on his flight from France to London. Helen happens to be the sister of Martin, a test pilot who disappeared six months previously and about whom Philip's publisher wants Philip to write a biography. What are the chances?

In the meantime, Philip's flat is burglarized and then a homicide takes place there. The hapless Philip starts to suspect that Martin may be alive while falling in love with the mysterious Helen.

Some sequences reminded me of Hitchcock, although the whole movie doesn't stand the test because the McGuffin is too flimsy even for a McGuffin. Still, a decent thriller with a plot that works even without a deafening soundtrack or freely unleashed profanities as is the case nowadays.

Windkracht 10: Koksijde Rescue
(2006)

Soppy
Cocky special operative Rick plays a dirty trick on attractive medic Alex and is then sent to her base as a punishment.

There follows a soppy love-hate relationship, with a rather unoriginal background story, involving Marleen and Koen, a couple of Rick's friends.

Think 'Top Gun' revisited, but way soppier and cheesier.

Triple Frontier
(2019)

Far cry from Bitcoin ruined by dumb ending
The film starts quite well, with dynamic Santiago 'Pope' Garcia (Isaac) being entangled as a consultant, with the police force of some country in South America.

During his last raid, Pope gets info from his CI about a drug lord hiding with millions in cash in the almost impenetrable Brazilian jungle and he decides to recruit four ex-pals from special forces to rob him. Of the 4 pals, only the Affleck character, 'Redfly', is barely shaped out as a divorced daddy, whose ex-wife makes him sleep in the garage.

After the usual playing hard to get, the five get to Brazil and discover that the drug lord actually hid the cash in his house's walls. They get greedy, and stuff as many bags as possible with banknotes. While the robbery itself goes well enough, issues arise with the getaway, because paper is heavy and all those banknotes hinder the plan.

Eventually, Redfly gets killed and his pals manage to make it to safety with 'only' five million, and guess what? After having almost died for their 'meagre' million, they all decide to donate it to Redfly's ex-wife, via an account set out for that purpose.

The stupid ending ruined a film which could have been a half decent action adventure. Given the greed of the characters, the decision to donate millions to Redfly's estranged wife (and two kids) is totally absurd. As if the million already allotted to her was not quite equitable enough, the four guys, none of them living a life of leisure and luxury, simply decide to go back to their miserable existence with zero in their pockets, because their pal Redfly got what was coming.

1066: A Year to Conquer England
(2017)

Weird editing
This documentary is about the fateful year 1066 and is composed of three separate parts:

1. An historical reconstruction of the events, with actors playing the main parts in costumes 2. Dan Snow, the presenter, visiting locations where the events took place, and 3. Three historians "playing" the parts of William, Harold, and Harald and who debate their strategies in what looks like a dimly lit cellar with a large interactive map of Britain

This last bit was quite bizarre and unnecessary since the strategies of the three kings could have been explained in a different way.

All this, interspersed with the occasional intervention of a guy who wrote a book about the Normans invasion based on an ancient book found in Brussels, made the rhythm of the documentary uneven.

Finally, as mentioned by others, the fact that in the reconstruction with actors, William's right hand was an African guy added a surreal touch to the whole documentary, seasoning it with an unnecessarily large portion of "woke".

Still, most likely that in the next documentary about William the Conqueror, the man himself will be from Senegal or Sudan.

Aquarius
(2015)

Sanctimonious
A contemporary and very 'woke' cop story, thinly coated with a sprinkling of nostalgia to make the audience believe it's about the 60s. Political messages are laid down thick, covering the whole PC spectrum: gays being forced to stay in the closet; women harassed at work and beaten by their boyfriends elsewhere; racially charged episodes; hypocrites bourgeois; youngsters against the war (Vietnam in this case) etc...

Actor O'Bryan, the guy who plays Ken, gets his usual role as the nasty weakling, due to his unfortunate facial features, but also the fact that he's white is a giveaway, because all white men are bad, except those married interracially and Sam (Duchovny) who's the hero. Actually, he's the only actor who stands out and I mostly like his role.

The women, including Ken's wife (and Sam's lover), his ex-wife Opal and bar owner Lucille look almost identical to me and without much range, except for playing frustrated middle-aged white women who don't get the "movement". The young, especially Emma, and the teenagers' members of the family are equally interchangeable, all thin and willowy, with long straight hair and always ready to perform sex, like professionals, obeying Charlie Manson's command.

The main thread of the series should be the search for Emma, who unwisely joined the Manson family but each episode offers minor crimes that need to be solved, all along the lines of "white man bad, everybody else good". In the first few episodes the villains were: a bar owner and drug dealer on the side; a corrupt cop; a terminally ill guy who killed his wife; a couple of lawyers doing dirty business and a sports champion who likes to bash his woman's face ... and, guess what? ALL of them are white guys. Do I see a pattern here? And I even forgot to mention Manson, the worst of them all, who's also bisexual and having an affair with another main player (you guessed it, a white male afraid of being found out) - seriously, how do they make up this stuff?

Duisburg - Linea di sangue
(2019)

Cheap production
Everything screams out "no budget", from the low-key locations to the banal photography. The "strange couple" of cops has been done a thousand times before, the lead female overacts like crazy as the wife of a "malavitoso" and the only message one gets is that it's better to stay away from Italian restaurants abroad because the owner may be mixed up with criminal organisations.

Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King
(2022)

Saving 2%
The documentary is about an understandably disgruntled group of duped investors, who started an "online investigation" on the untimely demise of Cotten, the founder of Quadriga, a cryptocurrency scam scheme. Cotten died during a trip to India with his mysterious wife Jen. But the documentary doesn't clarify much about Cotten or whatever happened to the $150.000 million he allegedly embezzled.

Quadriga, the shiny Canadian cryptocurrency company created by Cotten attracted young, nerdy, greedy guys who wanted to be millionaires before the age of 30 and invested all their money in an online company about which they knew next to nothing, just to show to the world how smart they were... and they ended with nothing because Cotten was smarter than them.

Reading the other reviews it seems like what struck most the audience was the misfortunate guy who invested all his money ($400.000) to save the 2% a bank would have charged him for a withdrawal. Not only that, but this guy's desperate move was fuelled by the fact that he took a loan for $85.000 to invest in cryptocurrency, and when the value started to drop, he had to withdraw what he could and even sell his house to pay his debt and start over... with exactly nothing, because he invested in Gerry Cotten's Ponzi scheme, AKA QuadrigaCX.

All this sounds so unreal because taking place in the online universe but having no money left is a real enough situation and while Cotten owned some $11 million in tangible assets, his investors lost everything.

Jen was not available to be interviewed, so the big mystery lies with her: did she kill Cotten? Did she help him to disappear? Was she duped like the investors? The investigation should have been a tad more accurate but perhaps the sense of irreality proves the intangibility of this new, albeit still cruel world some people live in.

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