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International DVD Talk Intl. DVDs, Region Free Players, RCE, Hong Kong DVDs & More

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Old 02-26-16, 02:25 PM   #51
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Muerte en Buenos Aires (2014 - Argentina) - while I'm well lacking when it comes to being knowledgeable with regard to Latin American/Iberian Peninsula cinema, it seems to me that among those nations, Argentina has the most fondness for classic form American-style film noir...and this latest movie falls well in line with that sentiment.

The story follows a detective (played by Demian Bichir) investigating a high-society murder. As the case seems to have roots in the local gay community, he pairs up with a pretty boy-type young cop who would seem to have better chance to gain easy access into that world. If you are thinking that it seems like a movie that should star Ricardo Darin, perhaps his absence can be made up for by the presences of his son Chino Darin who plays the young cop character. Ricardo Darin did well for himself in Argentinian neo-noir fare such as EL AURA, LA SENAL, EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS, CARANCHO, etc., so maybe it isn't a bad idea for his son to follow in that same path (note: my use of "noir" here is simply following the overuse (and often misapplied usage) of that term to help market/sell films...I generally dislike how that term is attached to every film in the crime genre (even when it doesn't really fit).

The movie takes place in the 1980s but outside of the 80's style pop/disco soundtrack, you really aren't given all that much in terms of socio-political, etc., type content to clue you in or go along with the period setting (maybe it is there for Argentines, but as an American viewer I didn't catch on to anything). The songs in the film really are quite good, and are likely the best aspect of the movie...the Argentinian DVD release even came with a CD (from what I've read). A gay nightclub features in the investigation so it made for a smooth entry to use music in the movie.

Outside of that though the movie is really rather mediocre. It has a nice look and style that'd fit with some of the American neo-noir entries back in the late 1980s to early 1990s. But the storytelling felt rather rushed and choppy over the 92-minute runtime...felt like it was overly edited down in terms of runtime. However, they play some excised bits during the end credits and they were basically nothing but fat, so perhaps it wasn't overly edited but simply underwritten from the start. The story was rather paint-by-numbers (high-society so you get rich guys playing polo, etc.) and predictable, and in general it lacked a sense of scope...it felt more like the type of investigation that you'd see in hour-long television fare. It'd make for a quality entry to an LGBT-based festival, but it is otherwise a quite mediocre effort in terms of appeal to fans of the crime genre.

I watched it via broadcast on one of the pay cable movie channels...thankfully it was in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and not cropped to 1.78 like they do with a lot of movies. I believe Artsploitation has the rights to DEATH IN BUENOS AIRES here in the U.S., and while I think an earlier release was delayed, maybe it is still targeted for a release very soon (it is shown as coming on Artsploitation's site). But, yeah, likely there is no need for most to bother.
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Old 02-26-16, 03:38 PM   #52
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Re: European Cinema

The Prey (2011-France) Watchable thriller done in the style of Point Blank, Tell No One and Pour Elle (remade in the US as The Next Three Days). I don't think it's great but it's not horrible. I will add that those other films were better because they focused a little more on the characters. This one seems to be out of the US action movie playbook. The ending here is also pretty weak which makes it rate lower than those other films.
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Old 02-27-16, 08:31 AM   #53
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I watched THE PREY too...maybe back in the Summer...and had a very similar reaction. Not an A-type suspense/thriller, but as quick-viewing, popcorn munching, B-movie action/thriller fare I found it quite solid and entertaining...except as you said I do seem to recall that it took a nosedive in the last five minutes or so...curious (and disappointing) that they opted for such a biteless finish.




The Nordic pipeline shows no signs of shutting down, a bunch of stuff looks slated for the U.K.:

BLUE EYES - Sweden
TRAPPED - Iceland
OCCUPIED - Norway
HEARTLESS - Denmark
MODUS - Sweden
THICKER THAN WATER - Sweden
FOLLOW THE MONEY - Denmark

The first four have pre-orders up at Amazon UK.



Random thought: my new man-crush television character is Hundred Eyes from MARCO POLO. Forget about that Crouching Tiger follow-up, Netflix needs to make Hundred Eyes the new Zatoichi and give him his own series of martial arts films. Martial arts genre fans should definitely check out the show...I think they'd become instant fans of the character.
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Old 03-21-16, 09:20 PM   #54
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1992 (2015 - Italy) - watching the first ten episode season of this Italian television series...finished six episodes so far. It has been described as a political drama and I suppose it is in many respects, at the same time it might not be the ideal way to describe the show. While the "Mani Pulite" investigation (and "yes" it'd be wise to read the first few paragraphs of the wikipedia entry for Mani Pulite before starting the show) which resulted in a big political scandal is certainly the center around which everything revolves, the show is more focused on the personal side of things for the six linked characters who find themselves swept up or otherwise affected by the scandal.

The series is certainly handsome-looking in terms of production values, and it is interesting, while moving along at a quick-viewing pace. It's unquestionably solid-viewing but - for me - comes up just a bit short when compared to other Italian TV-series efforts such as ROMANZO CRIMINALE and GOMORRA...at least at this mid-way point in my viewing. The little bit missing for me is that I don't find myself having much of a rooting interest in the characters...interested, I am...but "caring" in terms of connection to them, maybe not as much as I would like. The characters are familiar types you have met before...except in this case of course they are Italian.

Actually, while it is supposed to be six central characters, they really haven't done as much with one of the characters played by Alessandro Roja (he also played Dandi in ROMANZO CRIMINALE). Also, Sunny Leone has now been dethroned as the best-looking actress named Leone...Italian actress (and former beauty queen) Miriam Leone in this series is very sexy...she'd make a great Bond girl.

Let's see how things go over the final four episodes...so far 1992 is solid viewing for sure...just not especially noteworthy.



I'm waiting until I finish 1992, but after that I'm eager to watch the English-friendly release of the 2015 Italian crime film SUBURRA. Speaking of which...I hope an English-friendly release for 2014's ANIME NERE comes out sooner rather than later...same goes for Argentina's EL CLAN, the just-released Spanish Blu/DVD doesn't seem to be English-friendly.



Also watched the U.K. (but Nordic-vibed) series FORTITUDE...reminded me of JORDSKOTT, in the sense that they both start off as crime drama-type entries before making a mid-point crossover into X-FILES territory. I liked the multi-cultural cast of FORTITUDE, and the snowy setting, and it was quite quickly-paced...all the episodes were a fast 47-minutes. Once it makes the jump to an X-FILES type affair, the meticulous crime drama aspect gives way to more escapist, just-go-with-it storytelling...I found it enjoyable (but as was the case with JORDSKOTT, some might not like that it gets away from being more traditional Nordic noir).
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Old 03-26-16, 09:14 PM   #55
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Finished season one of 1992...no real change from what I wrote earlier...it's a quality show no doubt, and I'll follow along if they extend the show for additional seasons...though as mentioned it would have been a little better if I felt more hooked by the characters in terms of emotional investment.

I noticed that S2 of GOMORRA is coming in May...and S1 will be airing on Sundance Channel this Summer.

Suburra (2015 - Italy) - a politician's wild night of partying with two high-class call girls gives rise to a series of events that ultimately leads to violent conflict between Mafia representatives and a local gypsy organized crime family.

Interesting that I viewed this right after watching 1992...in the sense that they feel very similar in almost every regard and would pair up quite nicely as a viewing experience. One aspect of 1992 was showing the early rise of Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi, while SUBURRA takes place at the other end of his political life cycle...events in SUBURRA transpire over the course of eight days prior to his resignation in 2011.

Actually SUBURRA very much felt like it was an extension of 1992...as if they had continued making a series for every year that followed and instead of the season being called 2011 it was just called SUBURRA. Even the casting of characters here felt similar to the cast in 1992. You could even imagine that one of the high class call girls I mentioned could be the daughter of the Miriam Leone character from 1992.

With all that laid out - and it needed to be to properly capture my perspective on things - I did find the opening 35+ minutes of SUBURRA to be quite dull and unengaging (despite the nudity in the aforementioned menage a trois). First off - as a crime film - it felt more like the movie version of GOMORRA...a number of different characters...not every one being a gangster...but eventually things link up and they are pulled into the conflict. The movie took its time in bringing the characters and their eventual connections into focus, and too it was slow to get the ball rolling with regard to its plot. And again, for me, I was disappointed in that it very much felt like just watching another season of 1992...not that I didn't like 1992...just that I wasn't expecting SUBURRA to feel like "more of the same".

I understand that SUBURRA too (aka ROMANZO CRIMINALE, GOMORRA) is going to be made into a TV series. And I could see that it might be better suited for long-form storytelling. Again taking into account that I watched it right after 1992, I couldn't shake the feeling while watching SUBURRA that it felt like it should have been told in long-form - where you can get more into the characters - but instead of getting that ten episode treatment, we got a three-episode, bullet points only, 130-minute movie treatment...there were certainly a few passages in the second half that felt a little rushed and/or characters/relationships that would've benefited from being given more screen time.

All that said, once they do get finished setting the game board in that opening thirty percent of the runtime, I did find that the movie came to life and became much more satisfying over the remainder of its runtime...not anything you haven't seen before if you've watched stuff like the movie GOMORRA or the 1992 series, etc., but it was entertaining and par-for-the-course gangster fare.
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