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I Am Jane Doe (2017)
Though this appears to be another sexploitation flick about child "sex trafficking" it turns out to be more of an inspirational legal drama. But it's a bait-and-switch on top of a bait-and-switch, because there is nothing inspirational about it. First of all, the victims depicted in the film would never have been located without Backpage, yet we're supposed to believe that Backpage bears all the blame. The makers of this movie even see nothing wrong with paying an actual pimp for an interview and paying parents to expose their children, who are much younger than the actual victims, as performers in a prostitution movie to make a more entertaining indictment of Backpage. Then, as the movie shows the legal actions against Backpage repeatedly losing in court, the viewer is given the impression that it's progress since the courts are exposed as being wrong. Backpage's greatest vulnerability turns out to be that it tried to moderate listings to remove blatantly illegal content, which is cast as concealing crime. Meanwhile there is zero attention paid to pursuing people who directly abuse kids, likely because, as the self-righteous sheriff accidentally reveals, sex slaves are difficult to find in the sea of listings of adults trafficking themselves, and the ones that are there are more like exploited underage laborers than kidnapped children. In conclusion, it's a creepy movie from people who hide the implications of the broad censorship they demand because they want to feel better about themselves at any cost.
Apt 3D (2014)
I was looking forward to seeing this based on the plot summary; and things were looking quite good when I started watching and saw that it was a decent quality production; but then the awkward, and at times just plain bad, acting was inflicted on me; and the lame sound effects, which failed at producing any kind of atmosphere; but worst of all was being forced to contemplate the plot, which is just a waste of time. Even with a low budget a haunted apartment movie can be a least somewhat effective, but this one just didn't show any skill. The best that can be said is that it overuses glimpses of figures barely in frame rather than jump scares.
Blood Runs Black (2014)
Due to the low popularity of this movie I was expecting something amateurish and rushed, but the quality of the production is solid. The acting, sound, effects, and pacing are effective enough at creating a creepy atmosphere. The plot is nothing special, though: a housewife going crazy/possessed in her husband's absence with pretty standard plot elements, though her being a vlogger might resonate with the online generation. And unfortunately the director enjoys repeatedly teasing the audience with nudity rather than displaying it. It's like this horror is trying to avoid shocking. But the movie delivers enough to be worth watching.
The Brainwashing of My Dad (2015)
This documentary is very low quality and borderline unwatchable. It might be acceptable if were made by a middle school student, though a schoolgirl would have been more conscientious, and also wouldn't have scammed people out of money to make it. The historical footage and visual effects are low quality and silly, and the original interviews of Democrat partisans lack any insight. Of course media manipulation could be a valid topic, but if you prove that "conspiracy theories" are planted by corporations to get people to vote "against their interests" for Republicans with a clip of corporate-backed Hillary Clinton pointing her finger at a "vast right-wing conspiracy" you need to straighten out your thinking.
The title is really a bait-and-switch, since there is more analysis of Limbaugh and Fox News, which are very stale topics at this point, than of the director's father. The only examples of his "brainwashing" presented are that he thought the government should encourage people get jobs and that waitresses shouldn't be arrested for immodest clothing, which are neither extremist or even particularly conservative positions. It wouldn't be surprising for a retiree to become grumpy and fixated on a topic, but Senko's accusations against her father are left at the level of innuendo. After its various pointless digressions and pretensions of academic thoroughness the movie does return to the subject to show footage of her father, now confused and childish as his mind has deteriorated to such an extent that he doesn't notice that his wife has deviously blocked TV channels and his email subscriptions. The smugness of mother and daughter at achieving this "cure" is almost a reason to watch the movie. Nothing reported second-hand in even the most vehement right-wing media can come close to demonstrating how vile and irredeemable leftist nuts are compared to their own personal accounts.
Un ultim an in 114 minute (2014)
Obnoxious and powerful
This movie is just a camera pointed at an old woman during visits from the director, which is even more tedious than it sounds; but this allows plenty of time for the scene to be burned into the viewers' eyes and for thoughts to agitate their minds. Because unless they are surprised by an early death, they and everyone they love will die from the aging process. The monotonous presentation establishes an intimate familiarity, and the director's strangely silent and withdrawn personality leaves space to enter the scene even more. Of course this can also seem like an uncomfortable invasion of privacy, but hiding old people away doesn't seem right either, and taking part in this project could have been one of the important things Ana Voicescu did in her life, at least if the documentary is seen.
Heavy Metal Horror (2014)
Light on the horror
This mockumentary is too similar to the real thing to entertain horror fans. It's a smooth production, and the performances are solid, especially Hanrahan's portrayal of the jaded prostitute "survivor" in the extended interview that forms the basis of movie. But while the audience may be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the setup, as the minutes go by and the Event doesn't seem to get any closer, the suspicion begins to set in that there won't be time time for a climax that isn't disappointing. And indeed the ending is a letdown, though not insulting so, but there was neither the budget nor the imagination for anything interesting.
She Was So Pretty (2016)
Not so pretty
Poorly made: bad camera-work, bad sound, bad pacing, and acting that certainly could be better. The villain does come across as pretty creepy, especially since he keeps his mouth shut, but the movie drags on too much in home movie fashion for there to be any tension. Viewers also aren't rewarded with the violence and gore that they expect for investing their time watching low quality horror. Though the characters of the victims aren't developed in the slightest, the movie does sort of make the supporting role of the cop interesting. His confrontation with villain provides a resolution to the movie that is not very climactic, or intelligent, but that could be described as droll. Not a terrible movie, but it doesn't make up for its shortcomings enough to be worth it for the viewer.
Primal Shift (2015)
The concept of this movie--girlfriend turns into serial killer on a road-trip--has potential, but it isn't really fulfilled. The production quality is good, and the acting is OK, but the story just isn't well told. There's not enough character depth, not enough tension, and ultimately not enough horror. And at points the plausibility of the characters' actions is so strained that it seems like there must be scenes missing. No doubt there were limitations due to the budget, but what's the point of making a film when the product is less compelling than a TV episode? Not entirely a waste of time since the actresses are at least enjoyable to watch, but disappointing.
Giving the people what they want
Vomit, gore, and Christmas. This movie is sickening and relentless, though rather repetitive. Valentine's style seems to be improving, the soundtrack and cinematography are pretty good, and a consistency is maintained despite the bizarre subject matter. This movie also doesn't spend time on pornographic digressions that reduce the tension. That said, the rapid cuts, intended to disorient, soon become tiring. And some shots are too long or clear, revealing the effects to be ludicrously fake, though this is probably not unintended. Of course there isn't much of a decipherable plot, but this movie succeeds in doing what it intended.
Well that escalated quickly
It's surprising that this movie has gotten so little attention; though it's not great, it should be of interest to horror fans. Parties that get out of control and mean teens are fun subjects, and found-footage adds to the fun. Some will probably be annoyed by the shaky cam, some might be bored by the movie going over part of the timeline twice from different perspectives, and some will say the plot is too predictable or unrealistic. The concluding events are the whole point of the movie, but they don't unfold in a very plausible way. On the other hand, plausibility might be impossible so it might as well go for shock-value. Bottom line is that the movie delivered.
For fans of Blair Witch
Yet another found-footage film about a haunted forest, but it's a bountiful theme, since nature creates the atmosphere, and no budget is needed. They did a pretty good job with this one, though there is the usual aggravation of characters making stupid decisions to head into danger. This persistence along with the simplistic and unoriginal scares makes it somewhat difficult to become immersed in the movie. The supernatural evil seems to be providing scary moments like in a Halloween haunted house rather than as a real threat for most of the movie. But it's not a bad watch, and the ending is acceptable, even if this movie doesn't add much new.
Within Madness (2015)
Though this movie uses a vintage film effect without the pretense of being a vintage film, and pretends to be a found-footage style movie without sticking to that perspective, it is surprisingly watchable since these gimmicks keep it from looking cheap and provide some visual interest. Liberal cross-cutting to random pornographic BDSM scenes certainly spices things up as well. But, almost the entire movie is just a monologue, and though the delivery and script are fairly good, it's not enough. And while the movie gives the impression that it is building up to something shocking, the long-awaited action is very underwhelming.
Evil Souls (2015)
This movie might have some disturbing moments if the viewer could figure out what was going on. There are ghosts, a maniac in a mask, a little gore, some kind of demonic possession, but it's hard to see why this waste of time was made. Mostly it's about a woman abducted by a psycho, but these scenes are too reminiscent of The Poughkeepsie Tapes, and the comparison is certainly not favorable. The supernatural elements don't add up to much, the addition of the priest is silly, and the conclusion, as far as I can understand it, is weak. Can't even give it credit as low-budget fun due to the dramatic music that drowns out the sloppy dialogue.
Lives up to the cover
Despite the mumbling actors, incoherent story-line, and dim lighting this low-budget horror does succeed in portraying a creepy atmosphere. But atmosphere only goes so far, and as the film meanders on, presenting scenes that don't fit together, and way too much blubbering from a grown man, viewers will probably start checking the clock. The director and editor were probably doing the same, because the movie doesn't build up to much and the ending seems rushed despite taking forever to arrive. It's difficult to say whether this is worth the investment of time, certainly the viewer won't be missing much if he or she gives up.
The Challenger (2015)
White pretty boy plays a poor mechanic from the hood who decides to become a pro boxer to support his sick black mother. While it's not badly made for a small film, the absurd casting ruins every scene, and discovering that the writer/director is the leading actor reveals how you've been cheated of your time. The entire plot is ludicrous anyway, a thin and inferior imitation of real boxing movies; the acting is weak and lazy even from the real actors desperate enough to have taken the job; and the fight scenes are boring. It's unfortunate that Kent Moran can't be put on trial to provide some explanation for what he had done and beg for forgiveness.
Better than Interstellar
I was expecting another low-budget Sci-Fi shambles, but this is an entertaining movie with good quality production and acting. There is a lot of stuff going on in the plot to keep the viewer's attention, though most if not all the ideas are taken from other movies, and I'm not sure if the story that comes together here makes 100% sense. The basic motivations, conflicts, and relationships of the characters are rather incompletely developed so it is hard to invest much emotionally, but over-simplifying characterization to squeeze it into a movie's time constraints often just elicits the audience's contempt. Not a ingenious masterpiece, but a decent movie that rehashes some neat ideas.
This is an unusual period drama, since instead of exalted drawing room romance and subtle communications the story takes place in the backwoods and features a very neurotic gentleman. This character is so obnoxious that it is difficult to keep watching the movie, though introverted viewers may empathize with his obsessive hypersensitivity and social maladjustment. But as the plot progresses we see that he isn't that much crazier than the rest of society, just more sincere about it. This movie succeeds in immersing you in the time and place, and the acting is on point, particularly the ladies who are captivating despite not really being knockouts.
True Love Ways (2014)
A grind-house revenge exploitation movie though an art-house lens. Though artificial black and white cinematography is generally irritating, it suits the dreamlike and visually intense atmosphere of this film. But the abstraction and tastefulness cause any horror to lose much its immediacy, and the movie is as infused with boredom as with monochrome. A review describing even the basic plot is therefore spoiling some of its scarce impact. In this sicko's opinion there is also an insufficient amount of nudity for the plot: the most obscene imagery is a closeup of tape being removed from lips. But Anna Hausburg is enjoyable to watch, and the film is well-crafted.
Better than it sounds
Despite the quirky title this is a fairly serious drama about a mentally disabled woman's sexual awakening and pregnancy; and despite the sensational topic it's not too melodramatic or sappy. Victoria Schulz's performance is convincing and really anchors a movie that is otherwise rather questionable. The main character is given far more freedom than is believable, the man she runs into is of course that cruel rich type that women find so dreamy, and the director also seems too eager to include a depiction of middle-aged female frustration and fulfillment using Dora's mother. Ultimately it seems like a sort of exploitation film, which isn't a criticism. The frequent use of slightly blurry POV shots are, however, obnoxious, as is the muddled ending.
Hiljaisen talven lapsi (2012)
There but for the grace of God
Interesting and visually appealing documentary about a Finnish NEET or hikikomori. Though the IMDb summary mentions bullying, it seems that mental illness in the young woman's family is the major factor in her social isolation. The subject of the film, Katja, does not exactly surprise with her charm, but the film does a good job of helping the viewer get to know her by presenting a comprehensive picture of her life and feelings. It seems government welfare programs are useless for this kind of situation, and society is fundamentally indifferent, so the short time spent watching is rather depressing since we aren't given much hope of happiness for Katja.
Une histoire banale (2014)
When this movie started off with the heroine's offense at a middle-aged white man trying to interact with her on the train immediately followed by a pornographic sex scene with her black fiancé I could guess how this rape dramatization was going to go, and my expectations were more than met. Though the plot is simple, logic is continually defeated by obscure emotionalism. Before the rape the Victim doesn't act very rational, what is a straightforward assault is still somehow also unconvincing, and then her reaction is even stranger, with the Victim stuffing food in her mouth in public and exhibiting symptoms of multiple mental disorders. Recovery involves reenacting the rape with her friend, giving a useless testimony to the police after this rehearsal so that a rapist will remain free, getting a new boyfriend good at talking her in to sex, and learning to dance. All this is a great portrayal of the modern emancipated female, and the leading lady was brilliantly cast for her ugly sad face.
Le sorprese dell'amore (1959)
Don't make them like they used to
This is a very light comedy involving multiple love triangles (or really more complicated geometries) of confused, mismatched, or ambivalent lovers. The script includes witty dialogue and humorous situations; most of all on display is the ridiculousness of the human compulsion to pair up. It's somewhat difficult to maintain interest in a movie like this that has such a narrow scope and such foolish characters. The men of course especially come off as idiots, and one loser attracts far more female interest than is believable. The women are somewhat more clever, though they don't escape humiliation. But ultimately it's the loveliness of the leading ladies that carries the movie.
Postwar Lost Girl
This movie is about a wayward young woman running from her past, who is reunited with her sister after they became separated during the war. While she worked on the streets, the sister established a professional career as a psychologist. But before Martina can move on with her life she must face her history. Jeanette Schultze plays this "vamp" character very well, at once pretty, vulgar, and vulnerable. The camera also presents the viewer with some seductive shots. While the story is melodramatic, it covers the serious ground of war trauma and survival prostitution, though the resolution involves some ridiculous psychology.
Fair Play (2014)
Movies about talented athletes training are interesting, as are movies about totalitarian governments, but while this movie is well made it seems to just go through the motions. First of all we don't get a very good sense of Anna's struggles or accomplishments as an athlete. The political oppression of her family is also only partly sketched. While this leaves something for the viewer to figure out, it really undercuts the drama and significance of events. And we are supposed to believe that Anna initially doesn't realize that the secret injections she is getting contain a banned performance enhancing drug. So it seems we are watching a movie about a mediocre athlete who is also unfamiliar with truth. Added to this are her mother's strange actions, which are supposed to be the tragic result of the government system, but come across more as silly due to her obscure motivations. There is some dramatic tension, and the ending is acceptable, but this movie is half-baked.
While searching for her missing daughter an older middle-class woman meets a strange female drifter her daughter's age, and they spend some days together. The mother is uptight, the young woman is rebellious...hilarity would ensue, but this is a film of the European style: realistic, slow, depressing, and profound/boring depending on how you look at it. Even some nudist displays by Morgeneyer are severe, with her having the lean look of an animal. The film-making and acting are of good quality, but this is hard film to engage with. At least it is generous enough to have some kind of resolution, but by that point it's hard to care.