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The Irishman (2019)
7/10
old man Scorsese
17 January 2020
Elderly Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) in a nursing home recounts his life in the mob. He murders prisoners in WWII. He drives a truck and steals slabs of beef from the back. He is caught but he wins his trial. He is introduced to various mob bosses and befriends Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). He becomes the right hand man of Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

They don't make directors like Martin Scorsese anymore and they don't make movies like this anymore. Quite frankly, at two and a half hour, this may fit better as a TV mini-series. Only his name makes this a cinematic experience. While it is beautifully filmed, nothing really screams big screen. It is detailed and methodical. The problem is that it is a movie about a cold-hearted character. He is unmoved about his violent ways until the last act. His criminality is not fun. His brutality has no humanity. He is psychopath and not an enjoyable one. It is a movie from the past, by the past, and about the past. While I am in awe of the filmmaking expertise, I find the character has limited appeal. Scorsese is going over old grounds. His perfect movies have already been made. This can never exceed them.
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Busy Buddies (1944)
7/10
some stupid fun
17 January 2020
Larry, Curly, and Moe run the failing Jive Cafe. They owe $97 for pastry and are threaten with the lost of the diner. They try to earn money by hanging posters. The posters advertise a county fair with a $100 milking contest and the boys get an idea. I like the diner. I like its random stupidity and then it gets stupider. The cow milking is stupid but fun. That's all that one really wants from the Stooges, some stupid fun. It doesn't much stupider than this.
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7/10
momma more than gold
17 January 2020
Larry, Curly, and Moe are lazy bums still living with their mother. Curly has a crazy gold finder invention and the boys go to the city to sell it. They buy a gold claim off a con man on the street. They head out west and can only finds cans with their gold finder. Curly stumbles upon a lost mine.

The gold mine is fine. The cactus is fine. The gold coins don't make sense. All of that is functional but I prefer the mother much more. It would have interesting to have her hit the boys non-stop for fifteen minutes. It's weirdly funny to have a female Curly.
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Gloria Bell (2018)
6/10
portrait of a divorced woman
17 January 2020
Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a middle-aged divorcée in Los Angeles. She spends her days at her job, with her friends and her family, and dealing with a hairless cat and a disturbed neighbor. She spends her nights dancing at a nightclub with other older club goers. One night, she meets Arnold (John Turturro).

This is a remake of a Chilean film. The style is a matter of fact, slice of life story of a simple older woman. Gloria needs to do more with his life. I may have missed it but she needs to question him about his marriage. This movie has a lot unspoken but his personal life cannot be one of them. He can lie about it but she can't not ask him about it. Turturro is obviously disturbed somehow and she's avoiding it. Otherwise, it's a great portrait of an older woman. The tension is lessened by looking away from the drama.
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6/10
functional start
15 January 2020
Angry villagers attack Gomez and Morticia's wedding. The family escape to the new world where they settle in a dark mansion up on a hill. Margaux Needler is a disapproving neighbor who has her own show selling her perfectly planned community. Wednesday befriends Margaux's daughter Parker who tells her about junior high school. Wednesday decides to abandon home school for the public school.

This is obviously trying to tap into the Hotel Transylvania fandom as well as the nostalgia. This does remind me of Addams Family Values in one way. In both movies, Wednesday is the most interesting character. She has the most personal growth and her adventures are the most fish out of water. The movie goes overboard with Margaux. It would be nice to have more Parker with Wednesday. The family remains the funniest when they are forced to adapt to the regular world. There is not enough of that. When Wednesday starts dressing girly, Morticia could get more laughs by dressing the same to get in touch with her rebelling daughter. This is a functional start but it needs to go somewhere new if the franchise continues.
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Trancers III (1992 Video)
4/10
more camp
15 January 2020
Lena (Helen Hunt) is getting divorced from Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson). He is pulled back to 2352. The future is under constant Trancer attacks. All they know is that reporter Lena has information on the source of the attacks in 2005. There is a secret government program developing Trancers run by Col. Daddy Muthuh and R.J. is Lena's inside source.

From a fish robot to a time traveling booth, the franchise keeps adding strange artifacts. It's turning more and more into camp. The movie is basically trolling any critical review by naming the villain Daddy Mother. At 75 minutes, it barely has enough material to call this a movie. I'm surprised that both Hunt and Ward returned for this one albeit for short scenes. This franchise is going down a weird side road.
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7/10
troubling
15 January 2020
It's 1941. Adolf Eichmann (Werner Klemperer) is the ruthless Nazi leader who implements the final solution. As the tide of war turns, he starts cremating the victims to cover up the crime. At the end of the war, he manages to escape with a bag of jewels and Anna Kemp. He intends to lead a new worldwide Nazi organization while Israeli operatives pursue him across the globe.

I've never seen Hogan's Heroes so Klemperer is a meaningless name to me. All I can say is that his cold determination and ruthless arrogance is frightening. The first half of the movie is almost entirely pointed at his character. The second half is the chase following both sides. There is some intriguing elements although there is probably a lot of fictionalization. I'm also troubled that Eichmann is the antagonist of the story. Nevertheless, this is a compelling story with a compelling performance.
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The Juggler (1953)
6/10
interesting PTSD story
14 January 2020
Holocaust survivor Hans Muller (Kirk Douglas) arrives in the new country of Israel. Before the war, he was a juggler with a family but now he's alone as a refugee. He is terribly troubled and gets into a fight with a policeman. He is hunted by the police and befriends a young boy.

This reminds me of his son's movie Falling Down in that this character is broken. In that sense, Kirk is too powerful. The role needs someone more jittery and more flustered. It only happens in certain times. He's playing it like an on/off switch. It would have been great if his relationship with the boy could slowly return him to normal. He needs to start in a chaotic state and turn into a more steady state by the end. It is interesting to see PTSD being portrayed in an earlier movie. His clown work is very good and this is fairly compelling as a subject matter.
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Puppet Master II (1990 Video)
5/10
supersized
14 January 2020
After the first movie, survivor Alex Whitaker had gone insane and the state had taken over the Bodega Bay Inn. The puppets dig up Toulon's grave next to the abandoned hotel and reanimates the corpse. A group of researchers breaks in to investigate the reported paranormal incident. Toulon builds a flame throwing puppet.

The basic premise is simple enough. I really wish that William Hickey could continue with the franchise. He's an unique actor and this movie misses him. A bandaged Toulon is a bit cheap. The bigger problem is that the group meets him and seems unconcerned. Basically, they meet the invisible man and nobody cares. These are paranormal investigators. There should be more questions. The best way is to keep him hiding like the Phantom of the Opera. The flashback and the story gets muddled. The more characters get added, the more unnecessary it becomes. This doesn't need to be much more than killer puppets taking out the group in an isolated place. The first half is exactly that and the movie is great up to that point. I did expect much worst. The production value has been raised. The acting is functional. It is an average B-movie horror until the last act. It turns supersized and rather camp. I can certainly see the comedic possibility of this campy turn in this long running franchise.
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Out West (1947)
7/10
Shemp go west
14 January 2020
Shemp has a troubled leg vein and his doctor orders him to go out west. He is joined by Larry and Moe. Doc Barker orders dancing girl Nell to find out about the strangers. Shemp tells her about his vein and everyone assumes it to be a vein of gold. Doc had murdered Nell's father, stolen the family saloon, and locked up her beau The Arizona Kid. The guys agree to help her defeat the villain.

This is a fine Shemp Stooges short. Curly is still the best for me. Shemp is mostly fine. The jail breakout is a bit annoying. I get the premise of the sonic assault. I just don't want it assaulting me. Overall, it has some fun bits and the story flows well for a Stooges short.
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No Dough Boys (1944)
7/10
yellow face and body double
14 January 2020
Larry, Curly, and Moe dress as Japanese soldiers for a photo shoot. They have fifteen minutes for a quick lunch. News reports that three Japanese soldiers are on the loose. They fall through a trap door and happens upon a secret Nazi hideout.

The guys are doing yellow-face which is perfectly humorous for its time and during wartime against Japan. On top of that, the boys are almost making fun of yellow-face acting. The more disappointing part is the stunt double for Curly. His health issues don't allow him to do the tougher stunts but it's still disappointing. They should rewrite this to let Curly do less strenuous stunts and avoid the body double. This is a wartime Stooges propaganda and I'm sure it was popular with the soldiers.
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8/10
endearing
13 January 2020
Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is 22 with Down syndrome. He has no family and the state has placed him in a retirement home under the care of Eleanor (Dakota Johnson). After two years locked up in the home, he tries to run away multiple times. With Carl (Bruce Dern)'s help, he finally manages to escape between the window bars. He's a stowaway on Tyler (Shia LaBeouf)'s boat. Tyler has no fishing licence and resorted to stealing crab pots from Duncan (John Hawkes). He's on the run and reluctantly takes on Zak who has a dream of attending a wrestling school run by minor wrestling celebrity Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).

This is a road trip and water trip that pays tribute to Mark Twain. Zack is adorable. There is some tear jerking and some comedic hilarity. The acting is first rate and the characters are endearing. It is a little convenient for everybody to keep catching up to Zak although they do show the map where there is only that line. I think as long as the movie doesn't ignore it. These little contrivances can be excused. It's good that Tyler mentions pheromones. The other minor issue is the abrupt ending. There seems to be a switch which does suggest a tacked on ending. I like the ending but I would prefer not to get the misdirection. Overall, this is quite a magical trip.
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5/10
derivative
13 January 2020
A scientific mission on its last days on Mars. They are on edge as they wait for the pickup and a trip back to Earth. Marko finds possible life and keeps it from the rest of the team. As he investigates the site, a cavern opens up beneath him. After another crewman disappears, two members descend into the pit to find growing life in the dark.

This is a derivative sci-fi horror which borrows from some of the best whether it's Alien or other zombie movies. Surprisingly, there is a good solid cast, a good production, and a functional script. The directing is perfunctory and lacks the inventiveness to be interesting. This just doesn't have it.
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8/10
early Alfred Hitchcock
13 January 2020
There is a seventh golden haired woman killed by a masked figure known as The Avenger. The city is whipped up by the media circus. Blonde model Daisy Bunting (June Tripp) is unfazed by the killings. She lives with her parents. Her mother rents out a room to The Lodger. Daisy gets closer and closer to him despite her parents' growing suspicions and her boyfriend's dislike of the new boarder.

This is one of the earlier Alfred Hitchcock films. It's black and white silent movie or more to the point, yellowy orange. It's also the first movie where Hitchcock makes an appearance on screen albeit out of necessity. It is a first for him in many ways and shows his taste for the thrill of the macabre. It also shows his proclivity for blondes. It's an intriguing mystery thriller. The man should be more normal at the beginning. It would take away some of the problem from mother taking him in as a boarder. I do like the hinting of homosexuality for The Lodger. That would actually be the more interesting way to go with the character although the audience may not be ready. His reveal is interesting. Despite the unlikely story, it would be more compelling for him to catch the serial killer himself. Overall, this is an intriguing start to a legendary career. There is real tension with the mysterious Lodger.
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6/10
melodramatic soap
13 January 2020
Self-destructive nymphomaniac Marylee (Dorothy Malone) and playboy Kyle (Robert Stack) are the children of Texas oil tycoon Jasper Hadley. The adult heirs are spoiled, and entitled alcoholics. Mitch Wayne (Rock Hudson) is a geologist in the company and a friend of the family. Kyle and Mitch both fall for New York ad executive Lucy Moore (Lauren Bacall). Marylee has a secret crush on Mitch. Kyle has a quick marriage to Lucy.

This is a melodramatic soap opera of the highest order. It has more in common with modern day soaps. It's not really my taste but it obviously was somebody's taste. It is high class trash with great actors doing big acting. Bacall is striking as always. Stack and Malone are pushing the melodrama. I'm not as familiar with Hudson but he has a quiet power in his acting. Overall, this is pulpy, soapy, and over the top done in a professional way. It is serious trash.
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ER (1994–2009)
9/10
new level for old genre
13 January 2020
It's the story of the doctors and nurses of the emergency room in Chicago's County General Hospital. Medical shows are a long time staple of the TV landscape. This is one of the signposts of the genre. The awards are overflowing. It signals a new realism along with an intensity from the rapid fire medical terminology. The cast is a list of big new names headlined by George Clooney. The fifteen seasons can be daunting and there are some better than others. This is mostly due to how much one likes the cast during any one time period. On its original run, I actually came in much later after Clooney's initial run. I don't remember watching the pilot but I can see why I didn't continue. It can be a headache inducing experience trying to understand the medical jargon for the first time. Sure, there have already been MASH and St. Elsewhere but this is running at a new intensity. Once one accepts the speed, the medical cross talk can be seen as dramatic music. Over the years, I find most characters compelling except Peter Benton. There is a neediness to his likeability and a selfishness to his personal drama. It's like the show wants me to like him which only infuriates me more. The thing about this show is that the cast is so vast. As long as I have a couple of characters to cling to, the show can be compelling overall.
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7/10
Ripped from the headlines
13 January 2020
Phenix City, Alabama is a corrupt city of sin bringing lowlifes and soldiers from the neighboring base. Journalist Clete Roberts presents the murder of Albert Patterson presumably by mobster Rhett Tanner who has control of the corrupted government and police. Patterson is the Democrat nominee for Alabama Attorney General tasked with cleaning up the city. The heart of the movie is the amiable respected lawyer Albert Patterson being recruited to run for the post as violence mounts against the good people of the city.

This is a ripped-from-the-headlines story. It starts with a documentary style prologue like a real news report. Although it has documentary style and real life story, many parts of this is fictional. Nevertheless, there is real tension. It starts a little muddled but the tension does rise as the unrelenting violence mount. It has brutality that is beyond cinematic. Even women and children are beaten. The callousness of the corrupt police is just as brutal. It probably needs to give the father son relationship more screen time. It needs to develop the story better. Overall, there are some memorable scenes and it is an unique film.
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7/10
some good fun
12 January 2020
Larry, Curly, and Moe are the incompetent workers at the failing Lightning Pest Control Co. They plant pests in a mansion and get themselves hired. The mansion is holding a high class party and they have to work without being noticed. Of course, nothing goes right and the boys unleash chaos.

I'm surprised that Curly didn't get a concussion even if the hammer is rubber. The cats in the piano is a funny new bit although I wouldn't have the party goers laugh. It's always funnier if they're horrified. It does take the premise to a whole different place and that's some good hilarity. The fox hunt does feel like an add-on. It may be better to end the story at the mansion.
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All Gummed Up (1947)
7/10
good low level fun
12 January 2020
Larry, Moe, and Shemp run the Cut Throat Drug Store. They invent a youth formula for the pitiful wife of the elderly building owner Amos Flint. The guys turn her into a youthful beauty. Desperate to have the fountain of youth himself, Amos gives the guys the store. Only it goes too far.

This is a pretty good Shemp Stooges short. Most of it goes quite well. In fact, Shemp and even Mrs Flint seems to be doing a little bit of Curly impersonation. There is a bubble gum closing that isn't very connected to the main story. At first, I thought it would be a children's birthday party for Amos Flint. That would connect better. Overall, this is generally good low level fun.
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Screwballs (1983)
4/10
TTTTTT
12 January 2020
It's the 60's at Taft and Adams (T&A) High School. The boys are sex obsessed. Five boys get detention for sexual misconducts. Purity Busch is responsible for the demise of some of them. The boys vow to get back at the impossible Busch.

This Canadian high school sex romp tries to follow the great success of Porky's. The production is lower level. It certainly doesn't have anything as iconic as the shower scene. It's a poor attempt at a money grab. Some of the pranks are confused. It does precede Revenge of the Nerds. The difference is that the guys are not really friends. There is no character work here. It's just an excuse of T&A, mostly T. I'm guessing the local strippers got some extra work. The only joke that worked is the name of the high school. It's so on the nose that it's funny. Otherwise, non of it is funny. This is weak.
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7/10
true outsider art
12 January 2020
Lady Divine is the star attraction and the leader of a traveling freak show. As a finale, she robs the square patrons but this time around, she starts killing and taking hostages. In the chaos, she escapes to her daughter Cookie and her new Weather Underground boyfriend Steve. She gets raped. She's led by a child king to a religious figure.

This is true outsider art from John Waters. I love his outrageous attacks on the conventional. That's why I love the opening freak show. It's rather short, too short in fact. The plot turns into a muddle. I get dizzy with Waters panning back and forth in every conversation. He keeps zooming in and out. He's never been a great camera operator. He's trying too hard and not good at it. On the other hand, the movie never stops being fascinating. His wild characterization never allows the movie to be bland. It is a bloody mess. I'm not quite sure who the other characters are sometimes. This is simply weird. It is wondrously weird.
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9/10
best of Stooges
11 January 2020
Larry, Curly, and Moe are petty thieves. Judge Hadley dismisses the evidence against them as circumstantial and releases the trio. They continue to steal and this time it's fish on the streets. They are pursued by a policeman through a magician's box. They steal a plumber's truck and get mistaken for actual plumbers. They proceed to wreck havoc upon a high class mansion.

This is the best of the Stooges. Curly is at the top of his game. The pipe cage that he constructs is hilarious. There is a lot of great call backs including the final scene. The only minor improvement would be the black servant character. It's funnier if those things happen to a snooty rich person or a stiff upper lip servant. The Niagara Falls bit is great. It's not that big of an issue. This has to be one of the best of the Stooges shorts.
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7/10
some good fun
11 January 2020
In Australia, slacker loser Dave (Alexander England) takes his nephew Felix to school and completely falls for the teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o). He joins the school trip to a mini-golf farm hosted by children's entertainer Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). A nearby American Army research facility becomes overrun by zombies.

This is a mildly funny comedy horror. The horror is limited by the very young children. The comedy works to some extend. The funniest line comes from a kid saying the zombies look fake. There is good opportunity for comedy. Josh Gad is trying very hard. I'm not sure if Lupita fits the comedy mould. The lead could be funnier. Simon Pegg does it funnier in Shaun of the Dead. He doesn't have a good sidekick. The kid is too young to do the job. Overall, it has some good laughs but there could still be more.
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Black and Blue (I) (2019)
6/10
some flaws but still good
11 January 2020
Rookie cop Alicia West (Naomie Harris) is returning to patrol her childhood New Orleans neighborhood. Her body camera records narcotics detective Terry Malone (Frank Grillo) executing his drug dealers to hide his drug deals before a coming wave of investigations. Malone and his police accomplices pursue West through the devastated neighborhood as they seek to eliminate the body camera. She finds help from reluctant local Mouse (Tyrese Gibson).

This has good potential. It has some deep flaws but it is still able to pull off a thrilling crime drama. First, modern communication is an overwhelming enemy of this movie. West should radio in her situation after the first two gun shots. Her radio should still work after Malone intercepts her transmissions. When she gets Mouse's phone, she should be calling everyone and anyone. Couldn't she call 911? The easiest solution would be a POS malfunctioning radio and Mouse not having a phone. Once somebody has cracked the body cam, it should be much more simpler to hand it over to a TV station than a police station. When West kills the gangsters, she should check the car. I'm assuming that the director missed a scene there. West is trying to hide and she should really change out of her police blues. Despite these annoying flaws, the movie still works with some good thrills.
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Frozen II (2019)
6/10
uncertain
11 January 2020
Kristoff wants to propose to Anna but situations keep getting into the way. Olaf has permafrost. Elsa hears a siren call from faraway. The group follows the call to the Enchanted Forest where a historical event with the girls' late grandfather is brought to light.

I'm sure the girls who loved the original will still like this sequel. There isn't a memorable song this time around. It's nice to visit these characters. I'm uncertain about the story. I'm uncertain about filling in this history this way. It's fine but I'm uncertain.
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