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Posts posted by LawrenceA

  1. On 7/26/2021 at 1:44 AM, Updyke said:

     Im back!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

    I'm not.

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  2. DerTodesking.jpg

    Der Todesking/The Death King  (1990)  West Germany/Dir: Jorg Buttgereit - Bizarre, unsettling drama/thriller (?) that features a series of short vignettes of various people committing acts of violence upon themselves and others, interlaced with time-lapse footage of a corpse decaying. Not for everyone, to put it mildly, but it has an undeniable power taken as a whole.  (6/10)



    Three Colors: Blue  (1993) France/Poland/Dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Powerful, understated drama about a woman (Juliette Binoche) struggling to move on after the sudden death of her famous composer husband and their young child. Binoche gives an exemplary performance. Recommended.  (8/10)



    The Untold Story (1993) Hong Kong/Dir: Danny Lee & Herman Yau - Anthony Wong stars in this outrageous horror comedy based on the true story of a homicidal butcher-shop proprietor. Wong is terrific is this infamous "Cat 3" (basically NC-17 rated) bloodbath.  (7/10)



    Chungking Express (1994) Hong Kong/Dir: Wong Kar-Wai - In two loosely connected tales, policemen (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung) fall for mysterious, unusual women (Brigitte Lin and Faye Wong, respectively). Wong's signature style, love it or hate it, is on full display, with a meandering, improvisational feel that's more interested in mood than story. I thought the cast was very good, particularly Kaneshiro and Wong. Recommended.  (8/10)



    Three Colors: White  (1994)  France/Poland/Dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski - Black comedy with Zbigniew Zamachowski as a Polish immigrant in France who seeks revenge against his French wife (Julie Delpy) after she divorces him. This seemed like an anomaly compared to Kieslowski's Blue and Red films, but it's still enjoyable.  (7/10)



    Ring 2 (1999) Japan/Dir: Hideo Nakata - Director Nakata's unnecessary follow-up to the hit 1998 original about a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it in three days. A group of investigators search for the survivors from the first film as more people die from the curse. Bland and perfunctory.  (5/10)



    Ring 0: Birthday (2000) Japan/Dir: Norio Tsuruta - Prequel to the prior Ring films that attempts to explain the origin of the mysterious girl behind the cursed videotape. The plot is confused and the suspense negligible.  (5/10)



    Memories of Murder (2003) South Korea/Dir: Bong Joon Ho - Acclaimed serial killer thriller, based on a true story, with detectives Kang-ho Song and Kim Sang-kyung on the hunt for murderer. I enjoyed the film despite the tired subject matter.  (7/10)



    One Missed Call (2003) Japan/Dir: Takashi Miike - More J-horror "thrills", this time centering on a cursed mobile phone call that leads to the death of anyone who receives it. Miike may have been attempting to parody prior J-horror films, but it's a bit too straight faced to succeed.   (5/10)



    Kamikaze Girls  (2004) Japan/Dir: Tetsuya Nakashima - Cult film about a gangster's daughter who's obsessed with 18th century French fashion. This is fast-paced, loud, colorful, and not to everyone's taste, including mine, I guess.   (5/10)



    Noroi (2005) Japan/Dir: Koji Shiraishi - Found-footage J-horror about an investigative TV reporter attempting to do a show on a mysterious series of deaths in a small village. I'm not much of a fan of the found-footage subgenre, but this one worked for me, with a blend TV footage from various styles of programs mixed with security camera footage and other types of "real-world" surveillance.  (7/10)



    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) Sweden/Dir: Niels Arden Oplev - Thriller about a disgraced investigative journalist (Michael Nyqvist) hired to look into a long-unsolved murder case that involves a wealthy and powerful family. He's finds unexpected assistance from a troubled, unpredictable computer hacker (Noomi Rapace). This original adaptation of the novel by Stieg Larsson was overshadowed a few years later by the big-budget American version, but this one is well worth checking out. Rapace is phenomenal as Lisbeth Salander, the title character, and it's a star-making turn. Recommended.  (8/10)



    The Girl Who Played with Fire  (2009) Sweden/Dir: Daniel Alfredson - Lisabeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is back in Sweden after the events of the first film, but now she's been framed for three murders, and it's up to her and former associate Mikael (Michael Nyqvist) to clear her name. This sequel seemed much sloppier and uneven, perhaps due to the change in director, but the stars still make it worth checking out.   (7/10)



    Trollhunter (2010) Norway/Dir: Andre Ovredal - Found-footage dark comedy/fantasy thriller with a collegiate documentary crew following Norway's official troll hunter, a man tasked with killing any of the mythical giant beasts that escape from their designated habitats. The special effects are good, and the filmmaking clever, with a good, wry script.   (7/10) 



    Witching & ****ing (2013) Spain/Dir: Alex de la Iglesia - A group of bumbling robbers attempt to hide out in the country after a botched job, only to be confronted by a coven of murderous witches. Slick production values highlight this loud horror comedy. I found it a bit too obnoxious, but it has its moments.  (6/10)



    The Wave (2015) Norway/Dir: Roar Uthaug - Disaster movie about a rock slide causing a tidal wave to push through a fjord into a coastal town. A father and mother race to save their children from the deluge. This was a huge hit, and features US-style effects and production values. I found it entertaining.  (7/10)



    Knife + Heart (2018) France/Dir: Yann Gonzalez - Giallo-style thriller set in the world of gay adult films, where a mysterious masked assassin is picking off the cast and crew in grisly fashion. Vanessa Paredes stars as the world-weary production boss. The neon-soaked cinematography accentuates the period decadence.  (6/10)



    Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) France/Dir: Celine Sciamma - Period-piece romance about a repressed painter (Noemie Merlant) hired to paint a portrait of wealthy woman's daughter (Adele Haenel) in hopes of enticing a proper suitor. The painter and her subject instead fall for each other. Gorgeous cinematography and subtle performances are the best part of this low-key film.   (7/10) 



    Another Round (2020) Denmark/Dir: Thomas Vinterberg - A group of middle-aged school teachers make a pact to try and maintain a steady level of alcoholic buzz in an attempt to better their moribund lives, with mixed results. With Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, and Lars Ranthe. I enjoyed this Oscar winner for Best International Film, although I wasn't as blown away by it as some seem to be, and I prefer some of Vinterberg's earlier films. The real-life tragedy behind-the-scenes, with Vinterberg's adult daughter, who had been cast in the film and was on her way to the filming location, dying in a car crash caused by another drunk driver, casts a pall over the proceedings as well.    (7/10)



    The Binding (2020) Italy/Dir: Domenico Emanuele de Feudis - Scary in-laws in this supernatural thriller about a woman (Mia Maestro) who travels with her young son to stay with her fiancée's mother in her large, crumbling estate. As the mother begins to suspect something sinister is afoot, the clichés begin to pile up.   (5/10)



    Cadaver (2020) Norway/Dir: Jarand Herdal - In a grim, post-apocalyptic world, a couple are invited to attend a lavish dinner party in order to "raise their spirits". Their are ulterior motives, of course, and things go predictably awry. Blah.  (5/10)



    Don't Listen (2020) Spain/Dir: Angel Gomez Hernandez - Supernatural thriller about a family dealing with an unruly spirit in a decrepit mansion that the parents hope to renovate. The film plays like any of a number of American films of the same ilk, using loud audio in an attempt tp elicit jump scares.  (6/10)



    Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight  (2020) Poland/Dir: Bartosz M. Kowalski - Highly uneven homage to American summer camp slashers movies about an isolated retreat for youths with tech addictions who are forced to rough it in the wild without the use of cell phones or computers. Unfortunately for them, a murderous psychopath is also on the loose in the area. This has a few good moments, and the back story of the killer is unusual, but overall I found this lacking.   (5/10)



    The Scary House/The Strange House (2020) Austria/Dir: Daniel Prochaska - Juvenile-targeted horror thriller about a group of kids dealing with a haunted house in the Austrian countryside. A bit too routine for me.   (5/10)



    Sputnik (2020) Russia/Dir: Egor Abramenko - Cold War-era sci-fi thriller starring Oksana Akinshina as a doctor brought to a secret military base to evaluate a cosmonaut who recently returned from a space mission...changed. Big-budget special effects highlight this engaging-if-familiar genre outing.  (7/10)



    The Superdeep (2020) Russia/Dir: Arseny Syuhin - A remote scientific installation is the setting for this horror/sci-fi thriller. The world's deepest man-made hole unleashes something nefarious. A good set-up and an unusual antagonist are undercut by bad direction.  (5/10)



    Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula  (2020) South Korea/Dir: Sang-ho Yeon - Lesser sequel to 2018's Train to Busan, with a group of people traveling into the now-quarantined Korean peninsula, which has been overrun by zombies, in order to secure a truckload of cash. I liked this more than most other viewers seem to, although it's a far cry from the excellent first film.  (6/10)



    Blood Red Sky  (2021) Germany/Dir: Peter Thorwarth - A group of hijackers take over a passenger jet over the Atlantic. Unfortunately, one of the passengers happens to be a vampire. This was a well-made action thriller with horror touches and good performances.   (7/10)



    Oxygen (2021) France/Dir: Alexandre Aja - Claustrophobic sci-fi thriller with Melanie Laurent as an amnesiac who awakens in a sealed cryo-sleep chamber with a rapidly depleting oxygen supply. She must figure out who she, where she is, and how to escape before time runs out. Engaging thrills and a solid performance from Laurent elevate this familiar suspense outing.   (6/10)

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  3. I've watched several foreign language films over the last couple of months:


    Black God, White Devil (1965) Brazil/Dir: Glauber Rocha - A peasant (Geraldo Del Rey) and his wife (Yona Magalhaes) join various revolutionaries in a quest to find a more just and equitable life. Director Rocha attempts to blend neo-realism with experimentalism and heavy-handed allegory, with the results not much to my taste. It felt pretentious and amateurish, although the use of Brazilian folk tunes was a good touch.  (5/10)



    Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) Italy/Dir: Sergio Martino - An author (Luigi Pistilli) and his wife (Anita Strindberg) live in a large, decaying mansion, where they entertain friends in between vicious verbal attacks. Things get more complicated when the author's niece (Edwige Fenech) arrives, and a series of murders beset the neighboring town. This is a slick, tawdry giallo-style thriller with a lot of exposed skin. The many twists and turns of the plot proved a bit much for me, but the movie is recommended to fans of Italian films of the period.  (6/10)



    Torso (1973) Italy/Dir: Sergio Martino - Giallo thriller that's as interested in naked women as it is bloody murders. The cast includes Suzy Kendall, Tina Aumont, and John Richardson. This lacks the style of the better titles in the subgenre, but still provides some entertainment.   (6/10)



    In a Glass Cage (1986) Spain/Dir: Agusti Villaronga - A former Nazi, long in hiding and now suffering from illness that forces him into an iron lung, is tormented and tortured by his new "caretaker", a disturbed young man with a shared past. This controversial, very disturbing drama about mental and physical trauma is hard to watch.  (6/10)



    Nekromantik (1987) West Germany/Dir: Jorg Buttgereit - The infamous, low-budget shocker about lovers of the dead. I found it repulsive, amateurish and dull, and I've much preferred Buttgereit's later works.   (3/10)



    My Lovely Burnt Brother and His Squashed Brain (1989) Italy/Dir: Giovanni Arduino & Andrea Lioy - Proof that America isn't the sole source of beyond-dreadful shot-on-video dreck, this beautifully-named yet excruciatingly-produced travesty is obnoxious, incoherent, and just plain stupid.  (1/10) 

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  4. For me it was a mixed bag. The opening is very good - mood, setting, performances and the underground "shrine" are all excellent. But after the prologue, when Dale shows up and the action moves to the US, it quickly becomes what appears to be another substandard urban-legend/boogeyman slog. It picks up a bit later on (particularly at the abandoned campground), and the final 10 minutes or so are intriguing, Overall, I thought it was a mess, overlong (137 minutes), and at times irritating, but worth a watch for the opening, and for some of the ideas. 

    The reaction on social media seems to be mostly positive. 

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  5. Top 10 Favorite Films of 2020       (121 titles seen)

    1. The Father
    2. Promising Young Woman
    3. Palm Springs
    4. The Trial of the Chicago 7
    5. Minari
    6. Nomadland
    7. Soul
    8. One Night in Miami...
    9. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
    10. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

    Honorable Mentions: The Old GuardAnother RoundHostLittle FishHis House

    Top 10 Favorite Documentaries

    1. My Octopus Teacher
    2. The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart
    3. Zappa
    4. David Byrne's American Utopia
    5. Crip Camp
    6. Showbiz Kids
    7. Have a Good Trip
    8. Dick Johnson Is Dead
    9. Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies
    10. The Last Blockbuster

    10 Worst Films of 2020

    1. Derek DelGaudio's In & of Itself
    2. Like a Boss
    3. We Can Be Heroes
    4. The Last Days of American Crime
    5. Coffee & Kareem
    6. Bad Boys for Life
    7. The Babysitter: Killer Queen
    8. Hubie Halloween
    9. The Tax Collector
    10. Songbird


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  6. I don't have any exact numbers like Bogie56 does, but I've seen all of these at least 5 times, some many more:

    1. Dracula (1931)
    2. Frankenstein (1931)
    3. Dr. Strangelove
    4. The Shining
    5. Goodfellas
    6. Taxi Driver
    7. Apocalypse Now
    8. Halloween (1978)
    9. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
    10. Evil Dead 2
    11. Robocop (1987)
    12. Predator
    13. The Terminator
    14. Star Wars
    15. Big Trouble in Little China
    16. The Thing (1982)
    17. Airplane!
    18. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    19. Raising Arizona
    20. Blade Runner
    21. Alien
    22. Aliens
    23. Videodrome
    24. Forbidden Planet
    25. Dr. No
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  7. 2020 was a rough year, to put it mildly, and new movies were a major casualty of the upheavals. I managed to see only a few with a 2020 release date, and most of those were unremarkable or worse. However, I do have a couple of lists from critic Steve Prokopy. While I usually disagree with his rankings, and even dislike a few of those he chooses, his lists still manage to include enough interesting titles to warrant a look, and from a wider variety of genres and countries than many of the leading critics. Here are his choices for 2020, in separate lists for narrative and documentaries.


    1. Nomadland
    2. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
    3. First Cow
    4. Small Axe
    5. The Assistant
    6. One Night In Miami
    7. Promising Young Woman
    8. Sound of Metal
    9. Da 5 Bloods
    10. The Nest
    11. Minari
    12. Beanpole
    13. I'm Thinking of Ending Things
    14. The Climb
    15. Soul
    16. Possessor
    17. Another Round
    18. The Invisible Man
    19. She Dies Tomorrow
    20. The Dark and the Wicked
    21. On the Rocks
    22. Martin Eden
    23. Mank
    24. Swallow
    25. Emma.
    26. The Vast of Night
    27. Palm Springs
    28. Bad Education
    29. The Trial of the Chicago 7
    30. Bacurau


    1. Collective
    2. David Byrne's American Utopia
    3. City Hall
    4. Boys State
    5. On the Record
    6. The Dissident
    7. Dick Johnson Is Dead
    8. Time
    9. Crip Camp
    10. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
    11. Zappa
    12. The Painter and the Thief
    13. The Way I See It
    14. Beastie Boys Story
    15. MLK/FBI
    16. The Truffle Hunters
    17. Assassins
    18. I Am Greta
    19. Creem: America's Only Rock'n'Roll Magazine
    20. Vinyl Nation

    Please feel free to mention other 2020 films of note that you may have seen.

    Personally, I've only seen 20 titles from 2020, and I rated none of them above a 7/10.

    1. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm  (7/10)
    2. Host
    3. Lost Girls
    4. Have a Good Trip (documentary)
    5. Horse Girl
    6. Scare Me  (6/10)
    7. Underwater
    8. #Alive
    9. Vampires vs. the Bronx
    10. Extraction
    11. Dracula  (5/10)
    12. You Should Have Left
    13. Evil Eye  (4/10)
    14. Hubie Halloween
    15. Fantasy Island  (3/10)
    16. The Clearing
    17. The Babysitter: Killer Queen
    18. Coffee & Kareem
    19. Penance Lane
    20. Toys of Terror  (2/10)

    I've also seen both Bad Education (I liked it) and The Vast of Night (not so much), but I have them listed as 2019 films.

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  8. I-Vampiri-poster.jpg

    I Vampiri  (1957) Italy, Dir: Riccardo Freda - Hugely influential Gothic horror about a series of blood-draining murders that lead to an undead culprit. With Gianna Maria Canale, Carlo D'Angelo, and Paul Muller. This was the first Italian horror film of the sound era, and was a big hit, leading to a string of Italian Gothic horror films over the next decade. Mario Bava was the cinematographer, as well as writing and directing some scenes. Also released as Lust of the Vampire, and The Devil's Commandment.   (7/10)



    Cave of the Living Dead (1964) West Germany, Dir: Akos Rathonyi - A government agent (Adrian Hoven) is sent to a remote village to investigate some murders. It's part of a vampiric plot by a mad scientist (Wolfgang Preiss). Also with Erika Remberg, John Kitzmiller, and Karin Field. There's a lot of awkward humor in this B&W pseudo-Gothic horror tale, as well as old-fashioned racist-stereotype "scared servant" character played by Kitzmiller (Dr. No). It's all pretty dopey. Also released as Night of the Vampires and The Curse of the Green Eyes.  (5/10)



    The Blood Rose (1970) France, Dir: Claude Mulot - Another Eyes Without a Face rip-off, with Philippe Lamaire as an obsessed artist determined to heal his scarred wife. With Anny Duperey, Elizabeth Teissier, and Howard Vernon. There's not much to recommend here, although the pair of mute dwarf servants in the artist's mansion are unusual.  (5/10)



    The Dead Are Alive  (1972) Italy, Dir: Armando Crispino - An American archaeologist (Alex Cord) unearths an ancient Etruscan tomb. Soon after, a series of brutal murders occurs. Is there a connection? Also with Samantha Eggar, John Marley, and Horst Frank. What promises to be a supernatural horror tale with historical flourishes instead becomes a turgid melodrama and subpar giallo.   (3/10)



    Death Smiles on a Murderer  (1973) Italy, Dir: Joe D'Amato - Atmospheric Gothic horror with Ewa Aulin as a wealthy widow who may be harboring a sinister secret. With Klaus Kinski as a strange doctor, Luciano Rossi, and Angela Bo. Director D'Amato is usually reliably terrible, but this was a rather competent, if still lurid, effort.  (5/10)



    The Devil's Wedding Night (1973) Italy, Dir: Joe D'Amato & Luigi Batzella - A 19th-century scholar (Mark Damon) travels to Castle Dracula to search for the mythical Ring of the Nibelungen (!!!). Once there, he falls under the spell of a mysterious Countess (Rosalba Neri). This confused mixed of Gothic horror and exploitation trash is marginally entertaining, though for the wrong reasons. The sight of a nude Rosalba Neri splattered in blood and posing provocatively is certainly memorable,  (5/10)



    Crocodile (1979) Thailand/Hong Kong, Dir: Sompote Sands - A tsunami awakens a giant killer crocodile that wreaks havoc on the Thai countryside. This was made to be a croc-style Jaws rip-off, but was released in the US in 1981 after Alligator (1980) was a modest hit. It's dumb, cheap and laughable. The version I saw was dubbed in Italian! (3/10)

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  9. I've watched a few foreign-language films over the past few weeks.


    Space Amoeba (1970) Japan, Dir: Ishiro Honda - A space probe returns to Earth after being invaded with alien particles that cause giant monsters to emerge on a remote island. A group scientists and reporters team up with the natives to try and stop the strange invaders. Featuring a giant octopus monster, a giant crab monster, and a giant turtle monster. Director Honda lends some his Godzilla expertise to this sub-par example of the kaiju genre, released in the US as Yog: Monster from Space.  (5/10)



    The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1971) Italy, Dir: Sergio Marino - Giallo thriller with the lovely Edwige Fenech as a lonely wife of a wealthy businessman (Alberto de Mendoza) who finds herself the target of a mysterious killer targeting beautiful women. With George Hilton, Conchita Airoldi, Manuel Gil, and Ivan Rassimov. This movie is a bit more interested in nudity than horror, and the ending is a bit more prosaic than usual for this sort of thing. However, this movie has its fanbase, mainly due to the heavily edited English-dubbed version entitled Blade of the Ripper. This was a big success in Europe, and a follow-up with many of the same stars followed in 1972 - Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key.  (6/10)



    Night of the Devils (1972) Italy, Dir: Giorgio Ferroni - Gothic horror with Gianni Garko as a traveler in rural Russia who encounters a family beset by a curse that renders their patriarch into a bloodthirsty monster. Based loosely on Tolstoy's "The Wurdulak", which was more effectively adapted as in 1963's Black Sabbath.  (6/10)



    The Black Cat (1981) Italy, Dir: Lucio Fulci - Bearing little resemblance to anything Poe wrote, this strange but slow thriller follows a psychic professor (Patrick Magee) as he seeks revenge on those who've wronged him, often utilizing his pet cat. With Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Cliver, and Dagmar Lassander. This is set in England and features English-speaking stars, yet the version I saw was in Italian. This is very tame compared to much of Fulci's work of the era, such as ZombieNew York Ripper, and The Beyond, but fans of Euro-sleaze weirdness may find something to enjoy. (4/10)



    Angst (1983) Austria, Dir: Gerald Kargl - A paroled would-be killer (Erwin Leder) goes on a violent spree. The very simple plot doesn't offer much narrative or character depth, but the cinematography is impressive. The wild-eyed lunatic is more inept than menacing, adding much black humor, although I'm not sure how much was intended. European directors such as Gaspar Noe and Lars Van Trier have cited this movie as an influence. (6/10)



    Amsterdamned (1988) Netherlands, Dir: Dick Maas - A mysterious killer wearing scuba gear stalks his prey from the canals of Amsterdam. A veteran cop (Huub Stapel) is on the case. With Monique van de Ven. This plays like a Dutch version of an Italian giallo thriller. There's some awkward humor and character drama, but the action scenes are very well done, including an impressive boat chase.  (6/10)



    Terrified (2017) Argentina, Dir: Demian Rugna - A neighborhood is subjected to tragedy and horror when ghostly menaces begin attacking adjacent homes. The police team up with some paranormal investigators to try and get to the bottom of things. Some very effective moments are a bit undercut somewhat by a fractured, non-linear narrative. However, there's enough good stuff here to recommend to fans of the genre. (6/10)

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