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Honeymoon (2014) - Effective indie thriller from debut writer-director Leigh Janiak, released by Magnet. Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway star as a newlywed American couple who decide to spend their honeymoon in a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness. After a few days of bliss, things take a turn when Treadaway finds Leslie apparently sleepwalking in the woods late one night. She doesn't seem quite the same afterward, forgetting things and with strange injuries on her body. The husband's dread starts to grow even stronger as the wife's condition worsens. 

I can't reveal too much about the plot as the less known the better. Leslie and Treadaway, both British performers best known for TV roles (she on Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, he from Penny Dreadful), are good, although I have to wonder why they didn't cast American or Canadian performers for the American roles. This is a slow-burn thriller, and audiences have to be patient, although I thought the film went on about 10 minutes too long, and it only ran 87 minutes in total, so some fleshing out of the script would have helped. Still, for a debut feature from a new filmmaker, it is notable. North Carolina stands in for Canada.   (7/10)

Source: Magnet DVD.

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The Gift (2015) - Australian actor Joel Edgerton wrote, produced and directed this drama with thriller elements, from Universal and STX Entertainment. Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman star as a married couple newly moved to Los Angeles. They run into a old high school classmate of Bateman's (Edgerton) who seems desperate to restart a friendship that Bateman can't remember them having. Hall begins to suspect that something isn't right with Edgerton and that her husband isn't telling the whole truth about their past. Also featuring Allison Tolman, Tim Griffin, Busy Philipps, David Denman, Katie Aselton, Nash Edgerton, and Wendell Pierce.

This has all of the trappings of one of those late-80's "yuppie nightmare" thrillers that glutted the market for about 8 years, with the upscale settings and work environments of the characters getting upset by a malignant outside force, a situation that draws the worst out of the victims. Bateman is clever casting, as he's one of the best actors in his age range at portraying borderline nice-at-heart-or-really-a-jerk characters, which here keeps the audience guessing. Edgerton is normally a very physical actor, but here he's reserved and quiet. Hall is very good as the woman at the center of this odd dynamic, and she has her own past issues to deal with. I think audiences going into this expecting a rollercoaster-ride thriller will be disappointed, and while I don't want to spoil where things go, I think it's advisable to let viewers know that this is more of a moralistic drama than a jump-scare chiller.  (7/10)

Source: Universal Blu Ray.

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On 11/1/2017 at 10:31 AM, cigarjoe said:

Vice Squad (1982) City Of Angels - Grindhouse - "B" Neo Noir

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They were some of the best. Classical Film Noir that were low budget affairs featuring no name actors produced by "Poverty Row" studios.

Here is a great 1982 version of the above. Directed masterfully by Gary Sherman a Documentary, Horror, Zombie film director. The executive producers of the film were Frank Capra Jr. Sandy Howard and AVCO Embassy President Robert Rehme and Brian E. Frankish, producer, and Frank Hildebrand, associate producer. The two companies listed in the credits were, Dynamic and Hemdale.

Some trivia from IMDb:

"Controversial in depiction of its subject matter, this movie obviously had its detractors regarding this and its content. However, Director Martin Scorsese, director of Taxi Driver (1976) and Mean Streets (1973), came out and defended this movie. Apparently, Dawn Steel and Scorsese were at a Paramount dinner function when a disagreement allegedly broke out between them. Scorsese apparently said that the Academy didn't have the guts to nominate the best movie of the year. That picture was this film."

Cast for the most part with a bunch TV actors from the 1970s. A disclaimer here: I didn't watch much TV at all in the 70s, I was off the grid, out chasing women around the **** tonks of Montana, so these actors are all are pretty much off my radar. However all the players do a great job.

What the film does have is a cornucopia of,

A T M O S P H E R E.

This film is another visual noir lovers wet dream. A sleazy, gritty, vintage 1981 nocturne Hollywood and downtown L.A., glowing with a silvery sheen from street lamps, the incandescent gold of blinking chase lights, and multicolored flashing neon. All this is reflected in both storefront windows and wet city boulevards awash in bleeding colors. In a word it's

N O I R S V I L L E !

The Noir stylistics are provided in spades by cinematographer John Alcott who worked with Stanley Kubrick, his credits include (2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange(1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), and The Shining (1980)).

As a Neo Noir, the film is gorgeous to look at. It ups the game a notch. The camera in John Alcott's hands creates magic, as in Barry Lyndon practically every frame is a work of Noir art. It's a gritty, slimy, sleazy, dose of reality, you can almost smell the **** in the alleys. There is one cool sequence in particular that quotes the visual candlelit interiors look of Barry Lyndon. Princess has a John who wants her to dress as a bride for his own funeral, She descends a staircase, lit solely by candelabras, accompanied by the wedding march. This film demands to be seen for its visuals alone. Gary Sherman's informed research of both the workings of vice squad and the sleazy street nightlife give the film a high degree of gravitas.

A quality film on a shoestring budget, up there with the best crime thrillers ever made. Nowadays it's practically forgotten (except in Grindhouse and Exploitation circles), I think, for two reasons, number one because of it's lack of "A" list actors. If it had starred say Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, or Jack Nicholson, and Jane Fonda, Valerie Perrine, Karen Black, or Goldie Hawn, it may have stayed on the registers. The other contributing factor to its obscurity is of course, it's deviant adult, not for prime time, broadcast TV movie of the week, subject matter. It however, most likely did play on cable. Though for a film about hookers, I have to stress it has very little sexploitation nudity, a shame, that would have just been an added bonus. Screencaps are from the OOP Anchor Bay DVD, a definite keeper, bravo. 8/10 Full review with some screencaps here in Film Noir/Gangster and with a cornucopia of screenshots at Noirsville

 

Seen that film only once and still remember after 34 years one film critic revue...should return to the gutter where it came from.

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9 hours ago, hamradio said:

 

Seen that film only once and still remember after 34 years one film critic revue...should return to the gutter where it came from.

Probably Michael Medved he's quite the blue nose, would be my guess.

Anybody who loves Noir/Neo Noir, should see it, I was blown away by the cinematography, it's a visual treat.

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Into the Grizzly Maze (2015) - Muddled, poorly-executed man-vs-nature thriller from director David Hackl. James Marsden stars as a notorious former resident of a Northern woodland town who returns home to search for missing wilderness guide Adam Beach. Marsden teams up with his deputy sheriff brother Thomas Jane, Jane's deaf-mute girlfriend and conservationist Piper Perabo, and doctor Michaela McManus, as they enter the "Grizzly Maze", a dense part of the forest containing large amounts of grizzly bears. One bear in particular (played by Bart the Bear, who even gets screen credit at the film's start) has started a murderous rampage, killing poachers and law enforcement alike. Old town sheriff Scott Glenn hires expert bear hunter Billy Bob Thornton (think Robert Shaw in Jaws, just dumber) to kill the monster grizzly.

When making a movie of this sort, it's important to be able to shoot the animal scenes convincingly, which this film fails to do for its entirety. The bear attacks have "smudgy" edges where the CGI tries to fit the actors with the bear, and many of the scenes are poorly framed in an attempt to hide the presence of obvious stunt doubles. The characters, too, are all cliched and uninspired. I watched this for Thornton and Glenn. Thornton doesn't bring anything to his role, although, as a reputed expert outdoorsman and hunter, the decision to dress him like a high-paid executive on a hiking trip, rather than as a grimy and well-worn country rube, is different. Glenn, whose character just wants the easy money so he can retire, looks like an actor who wants easy money so he can retire. Filmed in Utah and British Columbia.  (4/10)

Source: Sony DVD.

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The Lazarus Effect (2015) - Science fiction/horror thriller from Relativity, Blumhouse, and director David Gelb. A group of scientists led by romantic couple Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde are working on a project to briefly restore brain function in clinically dead patients in hopes of allowing medical professionals longer time to work on critical patients. Their experiments seem to work better than expected when a revived dog continues to live long after the effect of its treatment should have worn off. When a laboratory accident electrocutes one of their own, the others decide to use the technique on the deceased, with seeming success. But they soon realize that something is not quite right with their colleague... Also featuring Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters, Donald Glover, Amy Aquino, and Ray Wise.

The cover of the DVD case gives away quite a bit, and the film itself seems like a mash-up of Flatliners and Lucy. The movie has some style, and some creepy moments, but it works better when the story flirts with how guilt and religion can effect one's psyche in positive and negative ways. The cast is fine, although it was odd seeing the usually funny Duplass in a straight-faced role. This sat on the shelf for a few years, but I didn't think it was that bad.   (6/10)

Source: Fox DVD.

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Blair Witch (2016) - Belated sequel to the 1999 surprise-hit horror movie that kickstarted the "found footage" subgenre. A college film student (Callie Hernandez) decides to do her class documentary project on her friend (James Allen McCune), or rather her friend's sister, Heather, another documentary filmmaker who went missing back in the late 1990's investigating a local legend about a witch's ghost that haunted the nearby woods. Hernandez and McCune, along with his friends (Brandon Scott & Corbin Reid) and a local couple (Wes Robinson & Valorie Curry) who supposedly know the woods, all head into the forest to see if they can find the abandoned house where Heather went missing. 

I wasn't a fan of the original, The Blair Witch Project, so I went into this sequel (which disregards the superfluous 2000 meta-sequel) with lowered expectations. I was interested in what director Adam Wingard would do with the material, as I was a big fan of two of his previous movies, You're Next and The Guest. This doesn't rate with either of those, but I did enjoy it more than the original. It still uses the "found footage" gimmick, with all scenes supposedly filmed by camcorders, or, since this is more tech savvy, small GoPro style cameras worn by the cast, as well as a remote control camera drone. While the movie relies way too much on loud soundtrack-sting jump scares, I liked the decision to be more demonstrative as regards the witch's ghost, and there are some good creepy moments here and there.   (6/10)

Source: Lionsgate DVD.

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12 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I wasn't a fan of the original, The Blair Witch Project,

 

I can't understand that. I mean who isn't into endless hand held camera jitteriness and closeups of goo dripping from people's noses?

I paid money to see this sucker at the show, picking it over The Sixth Sense, a film I later saw on video tape and loved.

When Blair Witch ended the first thing my date said was, "What a ripoff." I then went into the washroom and overheard a guy say to someone, "My girlfriend wanted to see this thing." I could tell by his manner that he was not impressed with his girlfriend's choice.

I think we all felt like saps that day, taken in by all the great word-of-mouth this dud received.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

I paid money to see this sucker at the show, picking it over The Sixth Sense, a film I later saw on video tape and loved.

A married couple that are friends of mine saw The Blair Witch Project and loved it. Especially the wife, who was scared for the remainder of the night and lost sleep over it. So another friend and I made the trip to the next town over to see it, as it wasn't at our local theater. I had also been reading articles about the movie for months, all praising it. Well, we both hated it, my friend almost violently so. He wanted to stop people who clapped and grill them on what they liked. I suggested since we were at this megaplex we go see something else, so we saw The Sixth Sense, and loved that one.

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12 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

A married couple that are friends of mine saw The Blair Witch Project and loved it. Especially the wife, who was scared for the remainder of the night and lost sleep over it. So another friend and I made the trip to the next town over to see it, as it wasn't at our local theater. I had also been reading articles about the movie for months, all praising it. Well, we both hated it, my friend almost violently so. He wanted to stop people who clapped and grill them on what they liked. I suggested since we were at this megaplex we go see something else, so we saw The Sixth Sense, and loved that one.

I would have loved seeing The Sixth Sense on the big screen. That film was absorbing and eerie and I didn't see the ending coming. The film is also evidence of what a fine actor Bruce Willis could be before he started taking the money for crummy roles he would just walk through.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

I can't understand that. I mean who isn't into endless hand held camera jitteriness and closeups of goo dripping from people's noses?

I paid money to see this sucker at the show, picking it over The Sixth Sense, a film I later saw on video tape and loved.

When Blair Witch ended the first thing my date said was, "What a ripoff." I then went into the washroom and overheard a guy say to someone, "My girlfriend wanted to see this thing." I could tell by his manner that he was not impressed with his girlfriend's choice.

I think we all felt like saps that day, taken in by all the great word-of-mouth this dud received.

Back in '99, the whole Sundance-festival indie-budget "They made this film for $2 and a case of beer!" somehow turned the original Blair into a symbolic "warrior" in the fans' minds against the "studio tyranny" of a certain other disappointingly anticlimactic big-budget studio blockbuster that'd opened earlier in the summer of '99 (ahemjarjar).  The big buildup was that Blair Witch 1 was going to be the miraculous Little Indie Film That Could, and show that stupid Hollyweird how real summer movies were made!

And then nobody understood the ending, and audiences laughed that it "wasn't as scary" as they'd imagined it was going to be from the trailer, and the same crowd shouted "Give us Barabbas" against that savior of the summer.  Plus the big self-marketing buildup trying to create "evidence" that this was actually a True Story (snicker!) had said overoptimistic fans believing it utterly, only to create that "We've been played for saps" backlash when it turned out to be just like every other Foundie-horror...Hey, it was our first time with this.

Me, I remember just liking the fact that a big Sundance-rep film actually had a genre plot (they make horror films too, and not just twentysomething desert slacker road-trips??), and there were some creepy jumps--You try hearing baby cries out in the middle of the woods at night.  But like 80's Slasher films making a pest out of John Carpenter's original Halloween, the 00's Found-Footage plague took away some of the original's creeps and turned it into an annoyance.  I realize nobody was paying attention enough to understand the ending, but one of the things that made Foundies such a plague is that by definition they have to end with "Everybody died, and here's the last known shot", so they all have to cut off pessimistically and confusingly abrupt, and leave the audience going "Huh??", long after the camera-drop-and-static had already become a cliche'.  

Sixth Sense went on to make the 00's revised AFI 100 Great American Movies list, but cut the original Blair some slack.

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14 minutes ago, EricJ said:

 Sixth Sense went on to make the 00's revised AFI 100 Great American Movies list, but cut the original Blair some slack.

Why should I? I paid money to have it bore and irritate me.

If it's reputation today is not what it was upon the time of its 1999 release, Hallelujah, that may save some unfamiliar with Blair Witch from being suckered into watching it.

And for those few reading this who have yet to see The Sixth Sense I feel a bit sorry for you because you probably heard about the ending. But whether you know the ending or not do yourselves a favour and seek out this ghostly gem.

 

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Shut In (2016) - Psychological thriller that fails in the last third, from EuropaCorp and director Farren Blackburn. Naomi Watts stars as a child psychologist working out of her home in snowy, remote Maine. She stays close to home to care for her teenage son (Charlie Heaton) who has been left in a vegetative state for the last six months since a car accident that also killed his father. Watts has grown weary of the burden, and has decided to move her son into a care facility, but she also has to deal with another patient, a mute boy (Jacob Tremblay), who has gone missing. As her mental state continues to deteriorate, things take a shocking turn when a massive blizzard hits, leaving her even more isolated. Also featuring Oliver Platt, David Cubitt, Clementine Poidatz, and Peter Outerbridge.

Watts is a good actress, and she brings what little is good here. The "twist" should be obvious to even the most dull-witted of viewer, and the final portion of the movie devolves into suspense film cliche. This was a Canadian-French co-production, filmed in Quebec, starring an Australian and a Brit playing Americans in an American setting.  (4/10)

Source: Fox DVD.

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17 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I wasn't a fan of the original, The Blair Witch Project

I was (and still am).

Wonderfully innovative student-film type in a low-budget independent.

I even liked the sequel - Blair Witch 2: Book of something or other.

But only the first qualifies as an undisputed classic. The second is merely entertaining. I love the mind**** theme, though.

I'll definitely have a boo at the new one. Thanks.

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The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) Junkie Noir

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Originally it was going to be a John Garfield film. He acquired the rights in 1949 to the novel but couldn't get approval from the MPPC. Garfield died in 1952 the film was bought from his estate by director Otto Preminger. Preminger set up his own company to handle distribution.

This film has a strange look. It's a throwback to the 1940s. It's shot completely on the RKO lot and looks it. Perhaps it was to cut down on costs. You get the same overall feeling when watching 1982's Hammett (a alcoholic's dream-like San Francisco). The studio set gives the film a off look, a throwback look, a cheap look, it reminded me of a typical TV teleplay, especially since quite a few noir by 1956 were opening up, were using imaginative on location work. It's supposed to be Chicago but it oozes backlot. This detracts a bit from it's effectiveness. Using real ghetto Chicago neighborhoods as Call Northside 777 (1948) did, greatly enhanced its realism and grittiness.  As is you are watching an uninteresting film, visually unexciting, just one step up from a filmed stage play.

The novel, by Nelson Algren, was substantially changed in the screenplay. Instead of Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) being hooked on morphine from a WWII wound, in the film he is a heroin junkie. 

The Man With The Golden Arm was nominated for three Academy Awards: Sinatra for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White and for Best Music (Elmer Bernstein). Sinatra garnered best actor awards by the BAFTAs and The New York Film Critics. 7/10 Full review with screencaps here: Noirsville

The much Noir-er storyline of the novel:

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Often referring to his drug habit as the "thirty-five-pound monkey on his back", Frankie initially tries to keep Sparrow and the others in the dark about it. He sends Sparrow away whenever he visits "Nifty Louie" Fomorowski, his supplier. One night, while fighting in a back stairwell, Frankie inadvertently kills Nifty Louie. He and Sparrow attempt to cover up his role in the murder.

Nifty Louie owed money to politically connected men, and finding his killer becomes a priority for the police department. Sparrow is held for questioning by the police, and he is moved from station to station to circumvent Habeas corpus requirements. Eventually he breaks down and reveals what he knows, and Frankie is forced to flee. 

While on the run, Frankie manages to find Molly at a strip club near Lake Street. He hides in her apartment and beats his addiction, but in the end the authorities learn where he is hiding. He barely manages to escape and gets shot in the foot, leaving Molly behind. He flees to a flophouse, but without any hope of reuniting with Molly or staying free, he hangs himself in his room on April Fools' Day, 1948.

 

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The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) - Excellent apocalyptic science fiction/horror movie from the U.K., directed by Colm McCarthy. After an alien fungus has decimated the Earth's population, transforming anyone not an infant into a mindless zombie-like creature with a taste for human flesh, a contingent of British soldiers and scientists are hard at work trying to find a cure. Their hope lies with a group of children, all of whom were infected as infants, and who have grown up without the usual zombie-like symptoms. They appear and act normally, but they still can be overcome by a taste for living flesh that turns them violently animalistic. When the base falls to overwhelming numbers of the infected, a small group consisting of the most accomplished girl from the ranks of the children (Sennia Nanua), a sympathetic teacher (Gemma Arterton), a gruff sergeant (Paddy Considine), a new recruit soldier (Fisayo Akinade), and the coldly calculating head scientist (Glenn Close) head into the ruins of London to search for rescue.

I'm always surprised when filmmakers can find something new to do with a zombie movie, and they've done it again here. Newcomer Nanua is terrific as the precocious infected girl who is happy to be in the outside world for the first time, little realizing the destruction all around her. Arterton, Considine and Close are all fine, as expected. I know most viewers are burned out on zombie flicks (and TV series), but this one is worth a look.  (7/10)

Source: Lionsgate Blu Ray.

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Backcountry (2014) - Minor Canadian nature thriller from writer-director Adam MacDonald that combines plot points from several other movies that I've watched recently. A young couple (Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop) take a romantic camping trip into the deep Canadian wilderness. They eventually find themselves lost with no clear way out, and things only get worse when a mean and hungry black bear starts hunting them. Also featuring Nicholas Campbell and Eric Balfour.

There's really not a lot to this, but if you go in with modest expectations you may enjoy this "based on a true story" man vs wild effort. The performances are good, and the scenery is nice (it was filmed in North Bay, Ontario and Squamish, British Columbia). Every Halloween season, many movie and TV websites put out lists of recommended "scary" movies. This movie was on one such list this year ("The Best Scary Movies This Decade You've Never Heard Of", or something similar), as was the previously watched Honeymoon. I liked that prior one better, but this one wasn't terrible, either.  (6/10)

Source: IFC/Scream Factory DVD.

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Private Detective 62 (1933).

After a rambling beginning (involving a U.S. spy getting kicked out of France, disowned by his country not wanting to be seen as involved) this pre code Warners programmer finally gets down to business when the former spy (played by William Powell) becomes the partner of a run down detective agency in the States.

The agency's chief detective (Arthur Hohl) is a shady operator and, after striking up a deal with the corrupt owner of a casino, gets Powell involved in a plot to frame wealthy (and constantly winning) casino patroness Margaret Lindsay. Of course, Powell falls for Lindsay and vice versa, and from there the plot unwinds, with Hohl laying traps for both of them.

This unpretentious quickie affair (running a scant 66 minutes) has a typically slick performance from Powell, as well as an engaging turn from Lindsay, adopting upper class tones, as the subject of the frame. Hohl plays his shady private eye with enough broad rubbery facial contortions to at times make you think he thinks he's playing in a comedy. Ruth Donnelly is also along for the ride as the detective agency's wiseacres secretary who likes Powell but regards Hohl with about as much affection as she does the depression.

Cast in support is character actor James Bell, looking dishevelled much of the time and constantly sniffing. There are dialogue references to his character as a "hop head" and "snowflake," as he is exploited as a dangerous associate of Hohl. One would think that a shady operator like Hohl might be a little brighter than to choose a junkie as a partner in crime.

A minor little film that can still be enjoyed as a time waster. But for the life of me I couldn't figure out where the "62" in the film's title came from, unless it was in reference to detective Hohl's I.Q..

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2.5 out of 4

 

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