Friday, December 06, 2019

Media Notes: Roundup for November 2019

 This is a somewhat random selection of the movies and series on DVD and/or online I watched during November 2019.

Movies and films (links to for basic information unless noted otherwise). Some of these I watched via or other online source. The DVDs come from the public library (unless noted otherwise). In addition, I will try to add other trivia notes, such as when a film is based on a book adding the information about the book (at least the WorldCat record if available):

  • A Vampire's Tale (2009. Horror. Western. Vampires, a.k.a. Umbrage). The only highlight this movie has is it has Douglas Bradley (the actor that portrays Pinhead in Hellraiser), and that is not saying much since his role is not a big deal.  Movie description: "When a dysfunctional family moves into a remote farm terror emerges from the darkness in the form of a vampire cowboy hell bent on revenge." Actually that sounds better than what we get. The vampire cowboy wants revenge on the woman who turned him, who stopped him from killing some other guy (who later is revealed to be quite dark as well). Years later in modern times, Jacob brings his family to an isolated English farm while trying to sell a valuable stolen relic, only the relic attracts the seductress, and the vampire seeking to kill her. Movie is seriously tame, barely a "western" (box art is misleading) where we only see that western setting in a couple of flashbacks. The horror is seriously tame, and the acting to be honest is pretty bad. You may end up feeling bad for Bradley choosing to do this dud. Thing is, the idea of the story is not bad, but the plotting and execution are. The ending is somewhat satisfying but very predictable. This is one not worth bothering really. Via TubiTv. 
  • The Frozen Front (2017. War. Drama. Foreign Film- French). January 1945 the first French paratroopers join their American allies in Alsace to to take the border town of Jebsheim. The fighting in the woods is intense in what became known to history as the "Alsace Stalingrad." A bit slow at times, but dramatic and moving in some moments as well.  The dubbing in English does leave a bit to be desired at times. It is similar to 1944, the film about Estonians fighting each other in World War II as we also get some French who get forcibly conscripted into the German Army as the Germans had conquered the area. It took many years after the war for the French to forgive those soldiers and see them as victims of the Nazis instead of traitors. Via TubiTv.
  • John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons (2018. Documentary. Comedy). John Leguizamo's recent one man show where he basically does his best to teach gringos, and the rest of Latinos who may need it, a lesson on Latin History, a well needed lesson. Combining humor and what you may not have been taught in school, you learn and laugh, and even find a moving moment or two. Definitely worth looking for (unless you offend easily or have no clue, in which case you need to find it even sooner). Via online streaming.
  • The Fall of the Krays (2016. Crime.Drama. UK film). The sequel to The Rise of the Krays (link to the roundup containing my comments on it). The brothers are at the top, but there are threats from within and without against their power. This film seems a bit more moody, yet remains interesting to look. As before, pretty good soundtrack reflective of the 1960s when most of the story takes place. In the end, it was OK. Via TubiTv.
  • Cyborg Cop (1993. Crime. Action. Science Fiction). In a nutshell, two DEA agents get in trouble with the agency after a hostage situation goes bad. One gets involved in some secret mission to some Caribbean island and goes missing. The other brother, portrayed by David Bradley (of American Ninja movies fame in a serious downfall in roles), out of the agency, gets a message from the missing brother, and goes out to rescue him. The catch is the island is really run by Kessel (portrayed by John Rhys-Davies way before he got a good break in Lord of the Rings), a wealthy man and scientist who is creating assassin cyborgs, and the missing brother just got turned into one.  The future of law enforcement this ain't. The acting is pretty bad; seriously, no common sense whatsoever. Cliches all over from the cocky protagonist to the obnoxious female reporter that though he claims not to want her around, well, they end up together. This is bad, and it is not the oh so bad it is good bad. It is just plain bad. One of those crappy late night movies of the 1990s. You can probably skip it.  Via TubiTv. 
  • Venom (2018. Science Fiction. Action. Superheroes). I can see why this movie did poorly for critics and others; it is seriously boring for almost an hour before anything of substance happens. By the time the action happens, it feels like too little too late. Overall, given the source material, this film was a missed opportunity for Marvel. This could have been so much more, and heck, I was even intrigued by the idea of a female symbiote, but even that potential is not enough to save this. As for the villain, an obnoxious version of Elon Musk and his ilk did the film no favors. Tom Hardy as Brock interacting with Venom is the only saving grace in this, but there is just too little of it to make the movie worth it. This is definitely one you can probably skip. Via DVD from public library. Go find the comic books instead, for example, I reviewed one of them recently. 
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013. Drama. Biography. Crime). I had heard of this film but knew little of the story other than Leonardo DiCaprio starred in it. Turns out it is based on the life of real life former stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who after his conviction and time in prison wrote his memoirs.  Movie is based on Belfort's The Wolf of Wall Street book. It is a Martin Scorsese film, so when I saw that, I expected something good, and it was. The film is well made. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill put in great performances, and it does capture the essence of the high flying late 1980s and 1990s when Wall Street was flying high while its greed destroyed lives and men like Belfort mostly got away with it.Not the kind of film that will endear Wall Street to the average Joes and Janes of the nation, but it is a pretty good film. It does have similarities a bit to other Scorsese films where the main character rises then falls in large part due to hubris and some addiction (see, for example Henry Hill in Goodfellas). It is a story this director can do very well in film. I will warn that at almost three hours of running time, it can feel a bit long. I'd say it is worth a look, and I may try to read the book down the road. Via DVD from public library.

Television and other series (basic show information links via Wikipedia unless noted otherwise). Some of these come in DVD from the public library. Others may be via YouTube, which, as noted before, I keep finding all sorts of other old shows in it, often full episodes:

  • George Carlin: Life is Worth Losing (2005. Stand up comedy. Humor). Carlin's 13th HBO special. Highlights include that rapid fire sequence in the first four minutes, what would happen if electricity would be eliminated completely, the All Suicide Channel, and his American Dream speech, which is likely one of the most brilliant routines of his career. To me, this man was a genius and truly a stand up philosopher as well as comedian.  The man was truly a prophet who always told it like it is while making us laugh. His honesty and insights comfort me greatly, especially in the Hard Times we live in. He continues to be one of the best. Via TubiTv.
  • Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994. Granada Television Series). I watched some later parts of this back in September and October of 2018. I continue watching some more of this favorite series. Via YouTube. Highlights this time: 
    • "The Bruce Partington Plans." When top secret plans for a British submarine go missing, Mycroft Holmes himself, top government official and brother of Sherlock Holmes, enlists the great detective to solve the case, which includes murder. I always enjoy when Mycroft makes an appearance in the series. 

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