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more of a reprise than a summation
21 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
So many of Ozu's later films were variations on a theme - father and daughter and the threat of impending marriage - best epitomized by LATE SPRING

unlike LATE SPRING - this one is in color - with slight changes in the detail - and in the family dynamic

still - AN AUTUMN AFTERNOON was zen-like watchable - i watch Ozu to immerse myself in his slowly-unfolding formalized world - but this time - i didn't find the same level of enjoyment - there was no breath of freshness - no emotional surprise

still - it helped a lot that there were some very pretty actresses - Iwashita Shima as the daughter - Okada Mariko as the daughter-in-law - and others

the skinny grey-haired father with a chiseled face will be familiar from other Ozu films - Ryu Chizu - who appeared in all but 2 Ozu movies

as for Ozu - it's amazing that this man who lived with his mother until her death (2 years before his own at aged 60) - and never married - nor had children - spent so much time writing and directing stories about marriage-bound daughters - as if he wanted to experience the bittersweet separation from his "daughter" over and over again
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White Night (2009)
lumpy angst
4 August 2018
An angst-driven horde of characters blended into a thin batter of a plot - resulting in a confusing mix of flashbacks and contemporary - there's an embedded challenge - just try and keep the timeline straight - if that's your type of story - then you need help

the actors are the best reason for watching this film - with middle-aged Han Suk Kyu providing his usual potency - lovely Son Ye Jin providing loveliness - and Lee Min Jung making a strong presence as the rich man's female assistant - Go Soo as the tortured young man - and a hodge-podge of very capable supporting actors
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the start of my relationship with Chizuru
10 March 2018
A languidly paced journey thru a relationship - accompanying a callow young man who meets a young woman curled up in a baby carriage

intrigued - he worms in his way into the home of her eccentric grandmother where the young woman lives - and is offered a meal cooked by the young woman who - when finished cooking - drops from a stool onto the floor with a thud - and then drags herself and her useless legs to another area of the small home - instead of joining him at the table

even tho she is sullen - and curt with him - and with an offbeat appeal - the young man finds her so fascinating that she soon steals him away from his pretty girlfriend - the two women's confrontation in the middle of a street is one of my favorite scenes of all times

the strange evolving relationship goes where it wants to go - not where you want or expect it to go - don't expect longing gazes or romantic declarations - these two have edgy get-togethers - offbeat yet convincingly realistic

i loved it - i fell for the odd girl even more than the young man did - the actress who portrayed her - Chizuru Ikewaki - instantly took her place among my favorite actresses of all time - she's an immensely potent presence - and that first impression has stood up after seeing her in mostly smaller roles in lesser films - i've even heard speak decent english in one of them ("The Oishii Man") - i can heartily recommend her film "Across a Gold Prairie"

the leading actor had more scenes and was able to hold up the film in Ikewaki's absence - with pretty and talented Ueno Juri as the prior girlfriend giving him a boost at times - but this film is a showcase for Chizaru Ikewaki - and her character - the bewitching Jozee
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The Borgia Stick (1967 TV Movie)
the mystery is why this film is so good
18 September 2017
It's amazing that this made-for-TV movie was so good - there's very little that was suspenseful - and the money laundering scenes were presented as suit-n-tie business dealings - altho the man was disguised - it just didn't seem that sinister - there are very few degenerates or gunplay - it's very suburban middle-class in tone and feel

however - it proved memorable for me - i saw it when it was first broadcast in 1967 and it's haunted my memories since - i think i saw a rebroadcast some years later - but otherwise - it has only been rebroadcast in my mind

frankly - it was the thought of being in an arranged marriage to Inger Stevens that burned itself into my memory - while i've never been a huge fan of hers - she was so appealing in this film that the sensuous thought of it pulled me into the plot

unlike much of today's TV fare - it's in bright color (color TV was just becoming wide spread in 1967) - and in the early 4:3 television aspect ratio - which probably accounts for the TV "look" that differs from big-screen movies and much of today's TV - and at this early stage of made-for-TV movies - they hadn't gotten into the habit of announcing every commercial break with rising music cues at a cliff-hanger moment

this film is about characters and relationships - it follows the life of a young childless middle-class couple who live in a suburb of NYC - who are cozy with their next door neighbors who are child-filled - the husbands commute together to NYC together - but while the neighbor heads off to his office - the younger man dons a disguise and visits banks with a briefcase full of cash - obviously for money laundering - though before the end of day - he does wind up at a small office in the city filled with toys and a solitary employee

then 23 minutes into the film - things change - between the couple - and to the couple - that change brings them into collision with their crime syndicate bosses ("the company") - but things are handled by the company bosses with subtlety and finesse (a wonderful departure from convention) - with almost nothing of menacing thugs or dark dirty alleys

the good actors deserve their share of credit - Don Murray and Inger Stevens as the couple have great chemistry together - Barry Nelson as the neighbor has chemistry with them too - Fritz Weaver is at his best as a suave syndicate boss - but even the others with less screen time add wonderful color and texture to the weave

the single flaw is the hazy incoherent monologue explaining the formation of "the company" in a vague conspiracy theory indictment of businessmen and politicians - but overall this story is laid out in such a way as to make the mundane engrossing - ie they don't overdo the action for actions sake - in other words this is an intelligent script probably best appreciated by similar minded people
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clichéd & claustrophobic & a little tedious
25 November 2014
a pitifully budgeted - b&w - British film - all the scenes seem shot in as small a set as possible - the few outdoor shots are a relief

altho based on a true story of a joint British and OSS effort to mislead the Germans regarding the invasion of europe by the allies - the plan was clever - but the movie's plot feels contrived and unconvincing

the actors are better than the script - Jeff Hunter acquits himself well - altho this confirms he was never a potent screen presence - but neither were co-stars Nigel Patrick or swiss actress Annemarie Düringer or anyone else
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The Taj Mahal (1982)
the ring of authenticity
17 April 2013
you've no doubt seen other documentaries of the Taj Mahl - and you've probably seen them with traditional Indian instruments playing in the background - what's new and special about this documentary is the voice - the rich and melodious voice of Indian actor Saeed Jaffrey

his narration vividly brings to life the intensely romantic story of the Mughal emperor and the woman who inspired the Taj Mahal - it's hard to find a more compelling history - additionally - Jaffrey can do something many other Taj Mahal documentary narrators can't - make the names sound authentic

short yet packed with information that is effortlessly absorbed due to the skillful writing - the narrator - and the visuals

one of my favorite documentaries - ever
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so fluffy it floats in air
23 March 2013
if you're in the mood for a romantic comedy - without anything thought provoking - this might do

the fun comes watching the two potential lovers trying to outwit each other - there were a couple obvious steps that might have been taken - but using them right away would have cut the plot short - so try to resist belaboring them

Gene Tierney & Tyrone Power were the eye candy of the time - they weren't top actors - but by this time - they had developed an easy charm in place of the finesse of the better actors - such as Carol Lombard - Claudette Colbert - William Powell - Cary Grant

the scheming and the repartee were pretty good - but not the best - and the falling in love wasn't so obvious - still the expectation was there to help the audience over the threshold

competent in all departments - which may explain why it isn't cited as one of the great romantic comedy - still - it's a good choice for a bit of light entertainment
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dull with surprising chemistry
25 September 2012
a gentler movie than most of Audie Murphy's westerns - he's a gosh-darn hillbilly man - who meets a plum dirty hillbilly girl - and cain't see thru the messy hair & filthy clothes to her Sandra Dee appeal - but at the town where they come to trade their furs - the sheriff there does see it - while the hillbilly boy is a smitten by the lady dressed in scarlet

this was never gonna be a great movie - but it weren't even average - the story didn't generate any tension cuz of the long dry scenes - and cuz everything was so predictable

the chemistry between Audie and Sandra Dee showed considerable promise - while Gilbert Roland almost steals the movie as the suave latino sheriff
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a diverse posse
15 September 2012
better than average Audie Murphy western with more sharply defined characters than usual - plus a good script that brings freshness - and even fun - to the heavily traveled chase 'em plot

the actors help a lot - Robert Keith as the grizzled ex Civil War soldier who keeps trying to take over the posse - Rudolph Acosta as an Indian trying to be accepted - John Saxon as a soft Easterner reluctantly shoved into posse duty - Paul Carr as an eager young man handy with pistols - to name a few - somehow the script makes this diverse group interesting without making them annoying - the one notable exception is the 1-dimensional quality of the kidnapped girl as written - fortunately - the role was given over to the way-too-talented Zohra Lampert - and she brings this small part to life

the represents the type of effort that makes genre enjoyable
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the romantic formula with colorful twists
25 August 2011
colorful quirky romantic comedy about an ugly duckling woman who wonders thru Nagasaki thinking of Lisbon - filled with manga inspired dreams of princes and princesses and romance - and yearning for the attractive man who once said something encouraging to her

well acted - especially by Miki Nakatani as the duckling

funnily - its set during the Christmas season and the soundtrack is full of Xmas music sung in English - the only odd note coming at a wedding scene with the bride and father marching down the aisle to "O Christmas Tree"

fast paced at the start - slows appropriately as the story deepens - the plot turns more conventional towards the end - but by then - the spell had been cast
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The Rat Race (1960)
the casting, the music, the unconventional
14 August 2011
if you're thinking of Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds with their Hollywood glamor - you're in for quite a surprise - this is grittier stuff than they usually did - altho - not guttery or depressing - as it would be in todays milieu

try to overlook the residue of Tonys Bronx accent - and enjoy his eager Midwestern saxophonist arriving in the jazz musicians mecca - Noo Yook City

except he's not in a typical Hollywood success story - here the emphasis is on disillusionment - and its actually risqué for its time - with Tony and struggling dancer Debbie Reynolds sharing an apartment - both actors are very good - Debbie could have used more such roles

the script is too talky perhaps - too much like a stage play - the most memorable thing for me beside the stars is the music - especially the throbbing theme song played over the opening scenes of Tony's cross country bus ride - from the plains of the Midwest - to smog shrouded NYC

and i can still hear in my mind the driving version of THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC played with real life saxophonists Sam Butera and Jerry Mulligan - and Joe Buskin at the keys - that scene demonstrates how convincing Curtis was at faking playing a saxophone - notice his red face while playing the large baritone sax - when i was in the school band - i could barely get a sound out of one of them
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Hawaii Five-O: The Singapore File (1969)
Season 2, Episode 9
ooooo marj dusay
27 June 2011
i've been watched some episodes from the Season 2 DVD set - and i chose this simply cuz of Marj Dusay's presence - i've always thought she was remarkably beautiful and sexy - and an equally good actress - she didn't disappoint

some of the dialog had the give-and-take that the old hardboilers had - and she and Jack Lord were very good at it

my gripe have mostly to do with the shooting - altho set in Singapore and The Phillipines - the scenes were obviously shot on sets or in Hawaiian locations - for a show that boasted of their location shooting - the effort to fool viewers seemed like a cheap trick

and what's with the Singapore cop with the fake bald head - being bald it turns out to be unnecessary to the role - altho - maybe it was feared that American audiences wouldn't realize it was the same guy in a later scene without some clue

the story was too obviously formula - but - in the case of the quasi-romantic pairing of an adversarial couple on the run - it was good formula
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Born to Kill (1996)
Action - Average; Shim Eun Ah - Wonderful; Chinese transfer - Poor
16 May 2011
an average sympathetic contract killer story - with moody 1-dimensional Jung Woo Sung bringing little beyond his pretty boy looks and chipmunk cheeks - the director must have told him in the beginning - "just act moody all thru this film"

the action is pretty mundane - but the romance added a little spice with pretty Shim Eun Ah playing an extremely forward barmaid with singing ambitions - she needs to be cuz our killer is - believe it or not - girl shy

the romance takes up most of the middle part of the film - with the so-called action taking up Parts 1 and 3

i must warn you about the Chinese DVD version I saw - distributed by Sky Entertainment - it has a terrible transfer - scenes in the dark were barely discernible - fortunately - those scenes were mostly in Part 1
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The Green Hornet: The Preying Mantis (1966)
Season 1, Episode 10
A memorable GH episode for the right reasons
11 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
while i'm not pretending this is great - in the Green Hornet context - and more importantly - in the context of martial arts in western films and TV - it is one of the most famous and inspiring shows

it has martial Asians against martial arts Asians - one of the first - if not the first - example in on US television

of course Mako wasn't a barehands fighter - what little he had to do passed muster simply cuz it was so little - and at the climactic fight - Bruce Lee's student Danny Inosanto stood in - producing a whale of a fight scene

we even get to see Bruce wield several different weapons - giving western audiences their first glimpse of these exotic devices

my only regret is that the standards of TV back then didn't allow more time for Bruce and Mako - they were both magnetic actors - and would brought the intensity level up several notches - instead - they played lap dogs to the white guys - which was a little demeaning - but made up for by the importance of the martial arts skills their characters brought
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formula with surprises
27 April 2011
crammed within the "chase" formula of this western are delightful surprises

  • a pacifist cowboy hero who - nevertheless - is wickedly good with a rifle

  • the chasers aren't villains - they are men whose actions are made understandable - if not condonable

  • good lead actor - Don Murray - whose real life pacifism seems to find perfect expression in this film

  • good supporting actors - Chill Wills - R G Armstrong - J C Flippen - Dennis Hopper - Margo

  • fine direction by Henry Hathaway - with shots that seemed to presage Hathaway's TRUE GRIT

  • and most delightful of all - Diane Varsi - in my favorite film of hers
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Duplicates (1992 TV Movie)
Kim Greist glows
7 December 2010
it's Kim Greist that i keep coming back to this film - she perfectly captures the distraught mother - then a woman in the glow of new love when she meets a man that she doesn't know is her husband

and that should tell you what type of scifi this is - its one which focuses on the human drama - it shifts the mystery that begins the story - and scifi elements that cap it off - into the background - at least - for a time

the scifi plot devices - when they are revealed - are pretty silly - they're merely functional in that they provide the motive - and can be tolerated if you think of in that way

formulaic - simplistic - but with Kim Greist to give it some authenticity - and heart
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meant to be together forever
6 December 2010
i'm a big fan of portions of this film - primarily the Peter Strauss/Molly Ringwald portions - despite their 21 year age difference - their incessant battling brought out the duo's chemistry just as if this were a romantic comedy - and Molly's valley-girl-in-space remains one of my favorite scifi characters ever.

with their charisma - and a talented supporting cast including Ernie Hudson, Andrea Marcovicci, and Michael Ironside - along with some imaginative set design - and great dialog for Molly - this is more than a gimmicky scifi yarn - too bad the rest of the movie isn't up to that standard.
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Where's the fluff?
28 April 2010
Not as lighthearted and fluffy as you might expect of a tale about a contract killer falling in love with his potential victim -- a lovesick, suicidal girl. The film focuses too much attention on the killer agonizing over the choice of his career (imagine that!). But I have a suggestion for him: why not retire AFTER offing the producers and writers of this film who put the wonderful Kang Hye Jeong in the secondary role.

Shin Hyeon-joon as the killer does a good job (as an actor) with the usual array of good supporting actors. Hye Jeong's role is too limited for an actress of her caliber -- but she doesn't disappoint. Cinematography is either pathetic or the transfer to disk is. Due to the presence of some bright, sunlit scenes, I blame the DP and director.
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The Uprising (1999)
Massacre of the English language
21 January 2010
(Note: the 2 stars is for the Spectrum DVD version.)

I really can't say if this is a good movie or a bad one. It is visually masterful, but the Spectrum DVD (with the "Les Insurgés" subtitle) had the most appalling English translation that I've ever seen. I have tolerated imperfect English before -- but this hampered my understanding so that I had a hard time telling, at first, who were the Christians and who weren't -- and what all the commotion was about.

For Shim Eun Ha fans, she's practically unrecognizable, she hardly appears and her character offers nothing to the story.

I would like to view a better version of this film some day, but I won't be rushing to do so.
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Ajji appa (1995)
Hard to believe
19 January 2010
It's hard to believe that Shim Eun Ha was ever in a movie as pitiful as this. But, it was her first -- probably the best available between TV series. It's not a stinker. It just fell short. In almost every aspect.

Take a formula Korean movie with worse direction and photography than usual (maybe that was due to the transfer to DVD on the Chinese DVD I saw). Let it start out lighthearted -- but bereft of cleverness. Let it fail to develop the motives of the characters -- or even build sympathy for them -- so that when the plot turns weepie, you're not moved.

The actors -- Choi Min Su as the policeman and Shim Eun Ha as the girl -- are way too good for this. Eun Ha would make only six more films -- the last, released in 2000 when she was a top star and still shy of 30 years of age. Her quality films (and outstanding ones they are) are Christmas IN AUGUST and ART MUSEUM BY THE ZOO (both released in 1998).
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Interview (2000)
More style than substance
19 January 2010
I cringed at times. "Oh, no. More interviews of couples that tell us what Real Love is like?" But then came the plot detour to uncover the secrets behind one melancholy interview subject.

It was the gentle revelations of her history that impressed me. And kept me interested.

I found the framing story of the filmmakers putting together the interviews and the interviews themselves boring -- altho, one resolves in an interesting way. And it kept most of the actors from adding anything but a modicum of depth to their characters. Only the lovely Shim Eun Ha as the secretive woman shines (in what is sadly her last film to date -- she was only 27 years old when it was released).
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Run 2 U (2003)
Bland and familiar
16 January 2010
Don't expect to find anything fresh and exciting. Does the notion of 2 young men escaping from gang they betrayed seem fresh to you? How about the fact that one is attracted to the other? While the straight one seems unaware of that since he is drawn to a pretty girl?

About the only new touches for most American viewers would be the ethnicity: the two young men are Japanese and the girl in between is Korean. And the movie dialog is a mix of the two languages (not that most Americans could tell... or care).

The action is pretty clunky since the actors aren't particularly athletic. And that describes the script pretty well, too.

At least, it's an opportunity to see pretty Chae Joeng Ahn as the young woman -- but the blonde dye-job diminishes her looks. (Check her out in the Korean TV comedy/drama COFFEE PRINCE to see her at her most beautiful.)
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Princess Hours (2006– )
For Royalty-obsessed teenies
10 December 2009
There are a lot of potential fans out there considering how many people obsess over the British Royal family -- and over how many young (and old) women dream about marrying into one. This TV series will have special resonance since it's about a gawky commoner who does exactly that.

At least that commoner is played by the delightful Yun Eun Hye who brings the character to life in an uninhibited way. Even when she's over-acting, she seems entirely natural. But if you want to see her at her best, check out the much better romantic comedy/drama COFFEE PRINCE (aka, 1ST SHOP OF COFFEE PRINCE).

This one flows along nicely enuf. Unlike American series which are intended to go on forever, this had a definite time limit, so it had a definite arc. Still, maybe the plot would have worked better at less than 24 episodes. But you may find an actor or character you like and latch on happily for the duration.

Unlike American series, this is bright and colorful (almost gaudy at times). There are better Korean shows out there for grownups -- unless you're a grownup obsessed with royalty -- then this may be your ideal show.
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An appreciation
15 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't approach this film with high expectations so I was surprised at how quickly I got caught up.

While considered a horror film by its prestigious director (Shin Sang-OK), by today's standards of over-the-top horror scenes devoid of characterization, this is a drama with supernatural elements built on understandable and conflicting motives (it's about the effects of a Shilla queen's lust for a General in her army who, instead, pines for his wife -- who encounters the disembodied spirit of a 1,000 year old fox demon).

The story is wonderfully straightforward and unfolds at a satisfying pace. The dialog is a little melodramatic but the acting and directing makes it tolerable.

You'll need to keep in mind that special effects everywhere were primitive in the 1960s. And that age has affected the film stock.

However, I found Shin Sang-OK's direction excellent and this story of a dangerous entanglement absorbing.
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Glimpsing a star
6 December 2004
It's Dec 2004 and I've just seen THE MAN IN THE MOON for the first time. If I had seen it when it first came out, I would have said, "That little girl (Reese Witherspoon) is gonna be a star!"

It's the type of gentle story that Robert Mulligan specializes in: life and love in a southern rural household sometime in the past (this was set in the late 1950s). It's amazing to think that he's from the Bronx.

While this story lacks the originality and depth that would have made it a great film, Mulligan and the cast give it enough to satisfy the gentle souls in the audience.

Special mention should go to Sam Waterston, Gail Strickland and Ernie Lively. Jason London and pretty Emily Warfield -- they're very pleasant. In the end, however, it's the stunning work of the precocious Reese Witherspoon that makes this movie for me.
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