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Content by Tommy Dooley
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Reviews Written by
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England)

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Son of Saul [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
Son of Saul [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Géza Röhrig
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 34.11
3 used & new from CDN$ 34.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Devastatingly Brilliant and Moving Tale, July 22 2016
This is a film that starts as it means to go on. It is set in the brutal Nazi Concentration/Death Camp of Auschwitz, where Saul is a Sonderkommando. These were prisoners that were forced to become part of the Nazi death machine by aiding them in the murder of their fellow countrymen, Jews and whomever were deemed an enemy of the Third Reich. The film opens with the deception played at the shower rooms where deadly Zyklon B gas was used to kill the prisoners.

The film is shot in a narrow aspect and is done – in the main – by focusing on Saul, so that what is happening elsewhere is often only half seen or passes us by in glimpses. This is incredibly powerful as you see how there is just too much to take in and the scenes are both terrible and moving in the extreme. The main plot comes when Saul recognises one of the victims as his son and is determined to give him a proper Jewish burial. What follows is his, and his co-inmates – plight.

To say this is a devastating film is an understatement. It is from director László Nemes and is his first feature length film, and what a way to make a start. This is hard to watch in places but it is so well made and acted that its sheer momentum carries you with it. Saul is played by Géza Röhrig who has put in a powerhouse performance. It is mainly in German and Hungarian (but also Yiddish, Russian, Polish, French, Greek and Slovak) and the sub titles are all very good, with a run time of 107 minutes that felt like a mere handful to me – this is a movie you will take a long time to forget – highly recommended.

1313: Giant Killer Bees!
1313: Giant Killer Bees!
DVD ~ Derek North
Price: CDN$ 23.29
14 used & new from CDN$ 16.98

1.0 out of 5 stars Possibly So bad it is nearly good... but then it really isn’t., July 19 2016
This review is from: 1313: Giant Killer Bees! (DVD)
This is supposedly about some ultra buffed up ‘scientists’ who all go off to a Caribbean Hide away to research why bees are turning rubbish at pollinating plants and stuff. They are all interns or something and the boss guy sends his right hand man in to ensure they are doing ‘research’.

Then he gives them a dose of something and they go all ‘killer bee’ etc. Meanwhile the scientists all run around in their under garments playing with themselves and looking buff. That is basically it. The dialogue is terrible the acting and delivery of the lines is worst than infant school nativity with all the actors (I am using that word with a lot of poetic licence by the way) saying their lines as if they are not related to any lines that have preceded them – a bit like acting in a vacuum; and I wish they all were in some sort of sound proof chamber as it would have made the viewing experience a tad more tolerable.

The plot then meanders off with bad cgi and more wandering around in their underwear. The sets are terrible the so called laboratory is just a ropey kitchen and the buildings look like they were inspired by Cuban urban neglect. Regarding the ‘players’; I have seen more chemistry at a rush hour bus stop and the music is just wrong. It is all action packed and over dramatic even when there is zilch happening. The only reason I managed to watch all of this is because I was squiffy and kept laughing – sadly this is not really meant to be a comedy, but I think with a bit of editing they could have had a half decent comedy of sorts on their hands; instead this is one to avoid.

Labyrinth of Lies [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
Labyrinth of Lies [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Lukas Miko
Price: CDN$ 35.99
5 used & new from CDN$ 34.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb German film on the man who put the Nazi’s on trial for Auschwitz, June 30 2016
Based on the true story of a young Public Prosecutor from Frankfurt named Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling – ‘Inglorious Basterds’). He encounters a survivor of Auschwitz and a journalist who want to bring the perpetrators of the atrocities that took place there to trial. The problem is that Germany seems to not want to rake over the coals of the past and there are former Nazi’s everywhere who just don’t care.

What follows are the travails he and his friends go through in order to do something, try to build a case and wake the German people from their wilful apathy towards the war. We also have his personal life and that of those around him and who are swept up in the investigation.

This is an extremely well made film, the story is completely gripping and I loved the period detail too. It does not sugar coat what took place but is also not horrific in terms of the graphic abuse that sadly occurred, especially at the hands of Mengele and co. It is very moving in places and features some truly excellent performances especially Fehling and his love interest Friedrike Becht (‘Hannah Arendt’)who plays Marlene – it is in German with very good subtitles and runs for 123 minutes and is one that is very easy to recommend indeed.

Alone Yet Not Alone [Import]
Alone Yet Not Alone [Import]
Price: CDN$ 24.90
24 used & new from CDN$ 14.65

3.0 out of 5 stars Middling quality production of a frontier story, June 29 2016
This review is from: Alone Yet Not Alone [Import] (DVD)
Starting in 1775 we have a story of a German family who emigrated to America to avoid religious persecution. They buy their own land in an area that was previously the domain of the local Native Indian Tribe. The British are at war with the French – again – and both sides drag the local populace into the conflict and the local tribes also.

This results in a previously allied tribe raiding the frontier homesteads and killing, burning and taking prisoners. This includes Barbara Leininger and her sister. What follows is what befalls them and their friends.

Now I love a good frontier tale, the Native Americans are really done well and some of the locations are excellent – I think they used the same area as Michael Mann in ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ so very evocative. The acting ranges from good to am dram and that is a shame. Some of the characters are stereo typed to the point of incredulity – especially a couple of the English officers. Then there are the wigs which started of being funny and then became annoying. I have seen more realistic toupees on sale in a joke shop. Why ruin a film that had a fair amount of money spent on it with minor hic cups? If you like a frontier story with a bit of action and some great fancy dress then there may be a great film here for you, if you like true quality in your films then think twice.

The Pigman Murders[Non Canadian PAL Format]
The Pigman Murders[Non Canadian PAL Format]
DVD ~ Gerard Fallon, Eugene Horan John Berry
Price: CDN$ 20.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 17.48

1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously Bad piece of film making in another ‘found tape’ genre, June 25 2016
I watch a lot of films and I am always prepared to give a film a go even when it has been widely criticised as often there is a saving grace. This is one where I was sorely self deluding. It is about seven friends who decide to commemorate the one year anniversary of a friend’s death – Brendan – by going to the middle of nowhere in Connemara and making a video for the dead guy’s family. A card would have been a better idea lads.

They hire a bloke called Stefan to film them; I mean seriously anyone can hold a camcorder cant they? But no not this pro as the film constantly breaks and fuzzes and then cuts out and becomes ultra annoying. For the first 31 minutes we get scene setting which is basically ‘the lads’ acting immature whilst the camera malfunctions.

When we move on to the actual ‘action’, the bits you want to see are nearly all done off camera! There is some good acting – which was surprising to be honest and the make up was good. However, the complete void of originality, character development, script and anything actually happening made for this to be utterly unwatchable. Oh and they make the most stooped decisions – repeatedly too. The director of this barfathon is credited as SPK. So you are so embarrassed about this god-awful tripe you would not even put your name to it? I am just guessing but this is my contender for the most pointless piece of film making ever – this was more annoying than a three year old constantly asking why? But that is the only question that this could possibly engender – why indeed.

Childhood's End [Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV]
Childhood's End [Blu-ray + Digital Copy + UV]
DVD ~ Charles Dance
Price: CDN$ 25.00
5 used & new from CDN$ 25.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The SyFy Channel finally comes of age with this rather good adaptation of a great book., June 23 2016
This SyFy Channel offering is all about when nice aliens come to Earth, they are non violent, non threatening and see us as children who need to be guided to get along better. So they offer us the deal of a lifetime, just let them rule and they will end poverty, inequality, illness, war, intolerance and make Earth an actual Utopia.

The 'Earth Supervisor' is Karellen played with imperialistic understatement by Charles Dance, he selects one farmer to be the spokes person and his mouth piece and this is Rick Stormgren (Mike Vogel ' 'Under The Dome') and he is used to convey to the World what our dear Overlords want us to do and what they are going to do in return. It seems too good to be true but when you have got it so good why bother rocking the boat. Some obviously do and that is covered too and includes a feisty part for Colm Meaney.

This is really well made, the SFX are incredibly good and the acting all rather top form too, the real strength is the story and how it weaves so many things into the plot but does it both subtly and ‘in your face’. I thought it was great and just flew by.I hope that we can expect more TV of this calibre from SyFy now– recommended.

Narcos: Season 1 [Import]
Narcos: Season 1 [Import]
Price: CDN$ 27.22

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant True Life Depiction of the biggest Drug Lord Ever, June 22 2016
This review is from: Narcos: Season 1 [Import] (DVD)
This was made for Netflix – where I watched it – and is based on the life of Pablo Escobar. I have read and seen a fair bit about the man and this follows the facts as portrayed in the Colombian documentary ‘Los Tiempos de Pablo Escobar’ and to say what happens is stranger than fiction is a massive understatement. It takes us along for the ride with Escobar and his cronies starting to realise that Colombia was a failing state and money talks. In his case it screamed and the US soon realised what was happening on its doorstep – only they were a bit late to the party.

By the time they caught up with him he had becomes numero uno in the drugs World. His power and influence gave him plenty of ideas too and they are all depicted here. It is a fair depiction of him as a man – presenting him as human and incredibly ruthless, cynical and downright nasty.

The production values are extremely high and the acting is just superb. Escobar is played by the excellent Wagner Moura who is actually Brazilian but speaks Spanish here like a native. He has been in so many brilliant films including ‘Elite Squad’ where he was seriously fit so must have attacked the pasta to gain the weight needed for this role. He is ably supported by a cast where even the bit players are outstanding. We have the stories of the brave men and women who went after him too and to say this makes for excellent TV is like saying cocaine can be a tiny bit addictive, and just like ‘Charlie’ this too had me hooked after one hit – I shall stop gushing now, but also I have not met a single person who did not rave about this and there are plans for a second season which I hope is very soon indeed.

Strange Woman
Strange Woman
DVD ~ Hedy Lamarr
Price: CDN$ 6.98
4 used & new from CDN$ 6.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Femme Fatale Noir from Hollywood’s Glory Days, June 22 2016
This review is from: Strange Woman (DVD)
Hedy Lamarr stars as the town beauty from the wrong side of the tracks in this classic noir from the, some would say, under rated and very talented director Edgar G. Ulmer. She plays Jenny Hagar whose alcoholic father left her to her own devices except when it suited his temper. She is the equivalent to ‘the raven haired temptress from below stairs’ in period dramas, but instead lives in a shack but knows she wants riches, and will do anything to get them and that she can get men to do anything for her.

It is a classic tale as she scurrilously lures the richest man in town, he is loaded, but she also has a thing for his young and sensitive son. You just know that wedding bells are in the air but so is mal-intent, and the ride is going to be very bumpy for all concerned.

Now this is just classic Hollywood, it has the good, the bad and the sorely tempted and some sterling performances; Lamarr is just brilliant and at times I even fell for her duplicity – she is just that good. There is also a small but perfectly formed early role for the brilliant George Sanders, one of the best character actors ever. The direction and the subtleties are a joy to watch and the allure of the film is like Hedy Lammarr herself, in that the years have not diminished it one iota.

10,000 SAINTS
10,000 SAINTS
DVD ~ Ethan Hawke
Price: CDN$ 19.95
4 used & new from CDN$ 16.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Indie drama, comedy of coming of age and loose parenting skills., June 21 2016
This review is from: 10,000 SAINTS (DVD)
The basic synopsis of this film is that we get to follow the lives of three mal adjusted kids and their equally messed up parents from Vermont to New York and back again, – sort of. This is one of those films where if you actually say any more you will ruin some of the plot; so I must demur – despite itching to say more.

The main character is Jude played by Asa Butterfield who is really very good and Ethan Hawke plays his narcotic loving father. I have to say the more I see Ethan Hawke act the better he seems to get. We also have the wonderful Emile Hirsch playing the lead singer to a hardcore punk type band. It is set in the eighties and they do manage to get a lot of details spot on – even CBGB’s makes an appearance.

The story is original, the direction great and the actors all seem to live their roles. It is billed as a comedy but I did not see a lot to laugh at here, I did really enjoy it though so as a drama withy light hearted moments it really did work for me.

No Title Available

3.0 out of 5 stars Seventies Sexploitation Crime drama., June 18 2016
Now during the seventies a lot of British cinema went down in quality, even the ‘Carry On’ franchise had done ‘Carry on Emmanuelle’ a woeful effort and this came out around the same time. People only went to see ‘X certificates’ and that meant that there had to be some sex and/or swearing so we have those boxes well and truly ticked here. This is about a bank robbery where two of the gang take the bank managers family hostage. The leader is Ron played by Darren Nesbitt; who really makes a better Nazi than an armed robber.

The wife is played by Sylvia Syms and she puts in an excellent performance. Well things don’t go as planned and the stakes are considerably raised.

***Now the next bit is a plot spoiler****

The daughter then turns into a sex starved nympho and throws herself at Ron’s younger accomplice. Cue the de rigueur ‘baps out’ scene and then the rutting which is totally incongruous to the situation and plot. I mean this is not even a case of Stockholm Syndrome gone kinky – it is just gratuitous sex and really detracts from what could have been a reasonably good film.

The fashion, the cars and the time capsule aspect of the film are the best parts of it. One part I loved was the bank manager drives an Austin Princess and it is nearly new and the window trim is hanging off already. I will never work out why British Leyland lasted so long. The direction is not too bad and the picture quality is excellent but this is what it is and as a piece to document the slide of British cinema it is a good example of the period. It is not one I could watch again though so if you are tempted then I would advise a rental – and maybe get some beer in too, it will help.

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