christopher-underwood

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Reviews

Pleasure
(2021)

look real but just a bit too
It is a difficult and bold, pseudo-documentary about the current days of the years of porn in America, especially Los Angeles. Sofia Kappel is the young Swedish actor with her first film and a hard job to start with. Clearly the director, Ninja Thyberg does really good at making it look real but just a bit too at times. It seems now as that the old days of porn are thought of as the 'Golden Days' between 1969 and 1980 and maybe sadly it has all gone. What we see here are what is hardly sex but just nasty stuff that looks as if it is just film after film of rape. It is a clever film and maybe it is just about time that it is looked at what it seems to be.

Assassin
(1973)

everyone does their best
I have the Blu-ray The Pemini Organisation box of Indicator and I had never before seen of any of the three, Hunted (1972), Assassin (1973) and Moments (1974). Watching the second one starring Ian Hendry who made a few movies but was really best known on TV but I alway liked him. Apparently he became of a bit of a drinker especially during this film. Ray Brooks was really good in the 60s especially with The Knack...and How to Get it (1965) but rather faded away. Verna Harvey was rather sweet and topless and had done a couple of films with Michael Winner in the 70s also Dixon of Dock Green (BBC TV 1955-76). Frank Windsor also did several films but again was most known on TV, especially with Z Cars (BBC TV 1962-76). As for this film there is really not too much I can say. The direction is rather arty and the story a bit clever but really not too good although everyone does their best.

Mighty Joe Young
(1949)

I'm not sure I have even seen this
I'm not sure I have ever seen this, as I'm a bit unhappy with slow films but all great at the end. But this one is fantastic and even the opening and the little girl, Lora Lee Michel is even good and with the little baby gorilla. All the film is splendid till the very end and a surprise and a burst of colour and fire. Willis O'Brien created the animation of King Kong (1933) and the supervisor here of the stop-motion and also with Ray Harryhausen his first film. Ernest A. Schoedsack was the director and had also The Dangerous Game (1932), Dr. Cyclops (1940) and also uncredited of King Kong. Ben Johnson seems a bit flat as the actor but it turns out that he was a rodeo performer and stunt man and doubled for as such as John Wayne and James Stewart, even his acting it apparently got better later. It is really a lovely film with a lot of action and even some humour from the gorilla. Great!

Moments
(1974)

a young girl and himself and a gun
A very pleasant film directed by Peter Crane who clearly had some ability, there is a lovely feel about it. The only problem is that the story is so slight although there may be something more going on. I loved the cold and winter time in deserted Eastbourne and the empty hotel, except for one other, a young girl and himself and a gun. There is also a memory of his time there as a child and are great shots of Beachy Head. There is something about the film that has a dream like quality, the hundreds of candles lighted and only the couple with fish and chips. Keith Michell does very well and his best days were with TV and movies in the 60s. Angharad Rees was also splendid and most with her, again film and TV although mainly in the 70s.

My Little Chickadee
(1940)

plenty enough and amusing all the time
It is neither of Mae West or W. C. Fields their best work but it is really not bad and the writing they both put together. West was 47 and still on good form and looking lovely, Fields was 60 at the time and even looking good for the time. There is probably not laughs all through but plenty enough and amusing all the time. At least it is not boring and it is always gives me a smile especially at the very end. West didn't make any more except The Heat's On (1943) which was not very funny and her last films, Myra Breckinbridge (1970) and Sextette (1977) I better not talk about them. Fields, of course had many films and was probably his best years in the 30s but he was good in this although he only had a few years to go.

Vortex
(2021)

stages of dementia
The Vortex presumably is partly inspired by Gaspar Noe's almost fatal brain haemorrhage in 2020 and maybe in his earlier films have their own vortex. An old couple struggling with the stages of dementia and death and the two, actor Francoise Lebrun and famous director, Dario Argento are both amazing. Although it is Argento, who doesn't really even speak French, gives a stunning performance. The film is rather long but very well done with split screens the two much on their own in their own world. We see the couple and gradually we really think just how terrible it is and we see what is coming.

Vera Drake
(2004)

At first the action is fast
At first the action is fast and Vera Drake is seen running around with her people and helping those who are poor, working in the rich houses cleaning, quick to her own family, getting lots of cups of tea and in the factory as well. Later on we see her helping poor girls who have got pregnant as they have too many children or their parent's they can't tell them or for what ever they are desperate. As after some hour or so the police are involved and everything slows down. The film really almost stops and we just can see what will obviously happen and so it does. It's very sad but the fast beginning has stopped and there is not really any further debate to make it more interesting.

The Man with Two Brains
(1983)

just the right time for Steve Martin
It is really funny all the time and I laughed out loud several times. It was just the right time for Steve Martin and he was brilliant. The writer and director Carl Reiner also gets it just right here and for me it was even better than his earlier The Jerk (1979). Of course I love Kathleen Turner a splendid actor, funny person and sexy woman and it is amazing that the neo-noir Body Heat (1981) her first film right before The Man With Two Brains and also continued with the underrated Ken Russell's, Crimes of Passion (1984). There are so many funny lines, some silly, some brilliant and even the silly and most simple as the name of Martin as Dr Hfuhruhurr that makes me smile just thinking of it. I also liked the brain in the jar and brilliantly voiced by Sissy Spacek.

Identificazione di una donna
(1982)

maybe needs another look
It is a bit slow and rather difficult story although it is really simple. It is the language that is a bit unreal at the start but I have to say that the photography is wonderful. I especially loved the stairs, the lagoon of Venice and the best of all the fog. In the car it begins okay at first but it gets rather scary but the traffic lights in the thick fog is almost as a dream. After the girl disappears and he finds another straight away, it reminds me previously of Red Desert (1964) and more so of L'Aventura (1960) of the loss of the girl and another. Not Antonioni's greatest but okay and maybe needs another look.

I'm No Angel
(1933)

the very best of Mae West's film
This maybe the very best of Mae West's films but I shall gradually watch some of her others and certainly this is a great one to start with. I have of course seen this before but now with the Blu-ray it is lovely to see such a fantastic print. She is not the most beautiful person in the world but just has a splendid sexy way of speaking and walking with a kind of rolling way and that great smile and wisecrack ribald jokes that outraged the moralists and was one of the factors for the production code following. We start of with a fine circus turn especially with the lions and with her own stunts including riding the elephant into the ring, not to mention in the lion's mouth. Then there are the varied gentleman she captivates and at the end the fantastic judge and jury she has in the palm of her hand. A young Cary Grant is happy although he sometime cannot stop laughing. There are also songs, great costumes and this is just a wonderful film from beginning to end.

Hobson's Choice
(1954)

Charles Laughton was funny
It's really quite a good film and although David Lean is not my favourite director or the star, John Mills. Nevertheless it is not bad altogether and even at the start I loved the old cobblers shop and the wonderful boots. I also love that there were some of the real old streets and we saw Salford and Stockport, splendid. Charles Laughton of course was funny, if a little bit over done, but still good and it was also fine to see a twenty year old Prunella Scales as one of the daughters. It didn't make me laugh out aloud but it was amusing and it kept going. Taken from a stage play of 1916 as shown by the costumes.

All or Nothing
(2002)

The Haddo Estate forlorn old flats
Surprisingly good film even though it is not as funny as Mike Leigh's other ones and it is rather sad and the terrible people who are still interesting and even moving. The Haddo Estate forlorn old flats provides the location as it was about to be pulled down just across from Greenwich station near where I live. There were three actors about to become much bigger, Sally Hawkins, born in Lewisham and Daniel Mays would star in the Funland TV series (2005) and on to bigger films as well and the third new actor was the sad big teenager James Corden who would continue with his Late Show. Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen were excellent and would appear mainly on TV although the big star is Timothy Spall who has the largest part and probably this work not caring about his looks. The All or Nothing is amazing although not very obvious as a film or even as a TV show but it is still wonderful.

The Swimmer
(1968)

cannot be talked about, before
It is one of the few films that really cannot be talked about or that the story will be giving away. For the director, Frank Perry this was more or less his first, he made Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) and both films are fantastic. The splendid, Burt Lancaster was also in couple of his great films before Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) and The Train (1964). It is a very odd film and amazing and that Lancaster has a great part where he runs and swims and only wears swimming trunks. The short story by John Cheever is very short indeed although Eleanor Perry and Frank make a great idea of the film. Janet Langard performs well with the star but for some reason never really does anything else.

May
(2002)

disturbing and wonderful and very dark
I so enjoyed, The Woman (2011) if that is the word, enjoyed, although it was difficult, the director also with Jack Ketchum. This one I had thought it was similar because the pictures looked it like but it is very different, his first film and certainly at the start I was stunned again. It begins very well although the dolls, the bits, her eyes are a problem and the way she seemed to look at people not quite like everyone else does. It was disturbing and wonderful and very dark and her idea of liking or kissing not quite the way most people enjoy. Unfortunately the ending is not too good and it seemed that it was all obvious. Very well done by Angela Bettis although I notice that her two best noted films had both been remakes, Toolbox Murders (2004) and Carrie (2002) which is rather shame because she was really interesting.

Secrets & Lies
(1996)

Leigh's famous party scenes to come
A splendid film and as I am trying to watch the Mike Leigh in order from the beginning and this one is surely the best so far. It does not just seem as it will be all that wonderful with start as a story with that a Black optometrist after the death of adopted parents and began searching for her birth mother. Amazing it is really lovely and amusing. Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Brenda Blethyn put in stunning performances and from the stuttering start it turns into a fantastic couple. Timothy Spall of course is great and puts in one of his best performances and there are naturally, secrets and lies to come out and one of Mike Leigh's famous party scenes still to come.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
(1948)

just about a western
I really didn't like this at all many years ago and especially not keen here with Humphrey Bogart. At first in the town it is clear that Bogart is a really down and out as he has to beg. Then he meets Tim Holt much the same and then they meet up with director, John Huston's father Walter an old timer gold prospector who tells them his stories of his gold finding days. Bogart was always trying to get easy money with the lottery and thinks of finding gold. They go up onto the hills and it is a slow going. The story is really rather slow and it seems that it is really that nobody gets anything free and more that there is a problem because that they do not trust each other and then especially Bogart is going mad and maybe wants it all. Its well done, just about a western but rather not very interesting and I just about managed to stay awake.

Almost Famous
(2000)

great part for Philip Seymour Hoffman
I thought that this was just a bit too long but noted afterwards that the Blu-ray was 161 minutes when the original length was 121 minutes which was better. But it is fine, the music is right and Billy Crudup and the rest of the rock band just right, although maybe they were just a shade too nice, the girls as well. The director, Cameron Crowe, does really well and I guess he gets it rather good as he had been a journalist of Rolling Stone and that I understand that it was semi-autographical. As himself as the young boy starting out to write is Patrick Fugit splendid at 17 his first film and the rather lovely young girl also on the road, is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn. I have to also mention as a great part for Philip Seymour Hoffman and you wonder if Crowe had someone like that helping as well when he started out.

High Hopes
(1988)

It is amusing
It is amusing but really rather silly much of the time. I loved the end when the couple from the old flats take the mother up on the roof after her 70 old party that of course was a terrible time, or funny. There is something of the past to see Marx and talk of the revolution, the times of Thatcher's days and also the yuppies. Indeed the upper-middle class couple really is just a pantomime although with the old mother it is sad for her locked out of her own house and they really just what to get her out of theirs. Their children, of course, are no better how really just what to get on with their own, and thinking about their silly party.

The Woman
(2011)

grim and nasty
I read the book, some ten years ago, The Woman, written by Jack Ketchum and partly with Lucky McKee who would also make into the same film. The staring Pollyanna McIntosh as the woman, the feral like cannibal wandering in the woods is probably best known for working in The Walking Dead (TV-2018). She is splendid and also Sean Bridgers who is a country lawyer and also a rather terrible person who will do anything. The book was difficult and the film just as well but it is really exceptional but, of course, very grim and nasty but not only that they pretend to 'civilise' the woman what the son and father really want to enjoy so is even more than violence.

Scarface
(1932)

Wonderful
At the start there was rather lot of talking and even when there is a killing it is only a shadow of the man and the body then displayed. So I thought this was going to be the way that it must continue but there is much more gunfight and killing than I ever imagined. The action is really so fast and thrilling with car chases, gunfire and crashes as well as explosions with bodies all around the place. I was so surprised at the violence and then also the girls were sexy too, splendid. Paul Muni is great and Ann Dvorak exceptional even a bit of singing and dancing although apparently she had been in musicals. I was also happy to catch Karloff. Wonderful.

The Culpepper Cattle Co.
(1972)

Its a really pleasant western
It's a really pleasant western that is something a bit different. There are not any big skies except the odd sun set and nothing of the mountains. But instead there are a lot of cattle and a drive in dust. There are not really any stars but many people we recognise them from several films, such as Billy Green Bush and Luke Askew. The young teenager, Gary Grimes had been in a couple of films and the year before he was in Summer of '42 (1971). He joins the Culpepper company as he wanted to be a cowboy and he does. The cattle are impressive and although there is action it is rather realistic and the cowboys all look much the same as any others. At the end there is more action and the gunfight with a lot of going on confusing with the church settlers in the middle remind me of Peckinpah. Nothing thrilling going on but still it is rather splendid.

Blow
(2001)

George Jung's real-life stories
George Jung's real-life stories of the US drug trafficker in and out of jail and having fun, the book by Bruce Porter's rather long titled, "Blow: How a Small Town Boy Made $100 million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost it all" made into the film directed by Ted Demme. This really says it all although I feel I don't need to read the book or even watch this but it has Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. They are both very good and so it is worth it, and of course if you want to know something about the story, then it is surely wonderful. I have to say that although it is just over two hours it really doesn't seem like it because the story is very well done.

Naked
(1993)

Despite everything it is very funny.
I was amazed to notice that watching this film was not really possible at first it was so very strange and the people not really there but then gradually I find it amusing and maybe the people were not as terrible. Well, they were and it was appalling that the men acted this way to women and even more awful that the women allowed it to happen. But then I noted that some people were not so completely crazy, well they are but not impossible and I expect that I had some people act that way even to me. I remember someone talking all the time with a security guard empty in the evening, drunken in shouting in the streets for no reason and crash down in someone's flat. So, it is not really everyone should not behave that way but they do. Despite everything it is very funny.

Bleak Moments
(1971)

perhaps not as bleak as it looks
At one time I believe this was thought as Loving Moments and at the end of the film it thinks that it maybe should be but certainly from the beginning it is very Bleak Moments. The woman is Sylvia the beautiful and smiling luminously as like a Mona Lisa to those around her. She lives alone with her 29 year old sister, Hilda whose is mentally challenged. There is a drifter, Norman he pretends to play guitar and camps in Sylvia's garage although he sometimes goes inside and has a cup of tea, a fag and perhaps a few nuts, maybe five or two. Pat works with Sylvia in an office and she lives with her bedridden mother but would rather have Sylvia's sister instead. The other star is Peter who would like to chat with Sylvia but it seems that even he can't get on better than anyone else. It is all rather uncompromising but maybe the people along will get on as it seems and that there appears it me perhaps not as bleak as it looks.

Us
(2019)

rabbits and ballerina
I quite like the director, Jordan Peele and his first film, the last one and hoped that it would be better. With this I thought was really good at the start, indeed for about half way. It was interesting and thrilling, and Elisabeth Moss was really good and I loved her mirror and lipstick routine but then when she was gone and it rather got a bit silly. Not just a little silly I'm afraid it was even so although there is some decent shots but it began to get rather too crazy. At the end it gets even more so and pretentious as well. I won't mention the rabbits and the ballerina is probably just as well.

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