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Dementia 13 A Fascinating Retro Watch

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When I say Francis Ford Coppola, what do you think of? The most common answer is The Godfather movies. They are considered to be one of the, if not, the greatest movies ever created with its violence, dialogue and plot. He is synonymous with those films as well as other gems throughout his illustrious directing career. Roger Corman is also a legend in his own way. The man, according to IMDB, has produced almost 400 movies and directed over 50 films.

The man also gave us, to this date of writing, the only decent Fantastic Four movie ever created in Hollywood. The man is known for low budget exploitation and “indie” movies with low budgets and some questionable acting in some retrospect. However, when the man had a good script and a good cast, he was able to turn low budget schlock into some hidden gems that have appreciated and have gained cult status over time.

So, what do these greats have to do with each other? Well, Coppola worked with Corman on some films early in his career. With them finishing a movie, Corman had a small budget of $22,000 dollars left over and wanted Coppola to write and direct a movie with the remaining budget. Coppola complied and the movie is Dementia 13. Why is it called Dementia 13? I don’t know. However, this movie is quite fascinating. You have a small budget, a location from your previous movie in Ireland and a script written in only a couple of days. Does this movie have any lasting appeal that has long been forgotten or is this a film that is lost to the viewer for a reason? We’ll judge this movie based on story, acting and the violence factor involved in this film. Let’s sit back and delve into the psyche of a messed up family and review Dementia 13.

The story of Dementia 13 focuses on the Haloran family in their castle in Ireland. We learn that there are three brothers and two wives in the family. The mother has written her will and is leaving all of her inheritance and money to charity in name of Kathleen (who is the deceased sister of the brothers who tragically died years ago). The first woman we meet is Louisa, who is the wife of the eldest son. She is vindictive and very manipulative. When learning of a deceased sister, Louise gets an idea of tricking the mother into believing that Kathleen is channeling from the afterlife through her. The main goal? She wants all the money.

However, things become more complicated and when we introduce an ax wielding murderer to the scenario and a lifeless looking body in the fold, the family starts to unravel more secrets and our wonder who is the murderer. Without giving away spoilers and events to the review, this story is a little complicated just because of the dialogue and scene and character choices. I can understand that this script was written very quickly because some of the dialogue and false flags throughout the movie doesn’t really make any sense and when we see it on screen, it just leaves me scratching my head and making me rewind the movie thinking I might have missed a key element in the plot. Overall, if this movie had maybe a couple more weeks of flushing out the imperfections in the story and gave a better red herring in the story, I think the movie would have been treated better than it is currently perceived as.

The main characters in the movie are the mother, Billy (the youngest), Richard (the middle), Louisa (wife of the oldest), Kane (Richard’s fiance/wife), and the family doctor. The mother acts like a shrew. She is cold toward her sons’ wives and doesn’t want anything to do with them. She is very superstitious and goes through some dementia when it comes to the coping of her lost daughter. Richard is the main brother that gets most of the screen time. He gets these violent outbursts and tends to just want to be by himself when he gets stressed or frustrated with the family. Billy is the quiet one who keeps having flashbacks playing with his deceased sister. He doesn’t seem out of the ordinary and blends in with the background.

Louisa acts like a gold digger who is stubborn and wants inheritance money from the mother. She is cutthroat and is extremely manipulative and strategic. Kane is the sweet lady who loves her fiance and is trying to understand the families backstory and wants her fiance to leave the castle and its haunted backstory and legend. The family doctor is very straightforward, persistent and also very no-nonsense. When dealing with the legend of the fallen daughter, he immediately results to finding out who is behind the trickery of messing with the mother. Each character has their own flaw and their own motivation. However, we’re being introduced to each of them and we want to get to know who each of them are and it feels like it all fell short. I like each character is unique but with creating suspense in the movie and introducing an ax murderer, I wanted to know more about these characters and plant seeds for potentially being the killer and fleshing out the idea of inheritance and an endless supply of financial gains. Overall, the characters were easy to differentiate but I didn’t really get to a point where I actually cared whether one of them lived or died and if they were the killer. We needed a little more character depth and maybe less random acts of murder.

The violence in the movie, for the time period, is actually pretty decent. They show beheading with seeing the heads rolling down, drownings, some splatter from the ax murderer’s swings and debris from an old building collapsing on the mother. I like some of the angled the camera gets with some of the killing as well as some underwater scenes in the pond. The suspense is the main thing that kept my interest in the movie. The black and white contrast and the eerie music as well as dark shadows all play for the effect of something foul is afoot. Coppola does a great job with the suspense using his location and set to his advantage. If the suspense and the eerie feel fell short and didn’t keep me invested, I would’ve just stopped watching and try and find another movie to watch instead. With all the flaws of the movie, this is the shiny spot in the rough. For a movie made back in the 1960s, this movie effects and camera shots were done with precision and a good amount of effort. For that, it made the movie bearable to watch.

Overall, this movie could have been great or a classic if it just had more time. It needed some proofreading, some tweaks on the dialogue and more suspense with unraveling more of the backstory of the family and who could be the murderer. This movie feels incomplete and maybe like some scenes might have gone missing from the movie even if it’s just 15 minutes of script. The suspense elements were the bright spot and helped make the movie watchable. The dialogue was almost unrealistic, the characters needs more flushing out, and we need a more concise backstory and more information with inheritance. The movie is view-able but would go well with watching with a group of people with some riffing in the background.

 

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“Kung Fu Panda 4” — A Letdown for True Fans

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As a longtime fan of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, I eagerly anticipated the release of “Kung Fu Panda 4.” Unfortunately, this latest installment feels more like a blatant cash grab than a heartfelt continuation of Po’s journey. Despite its dazzling animation, the film falls short in delivering the magic that made us fall in love with the series in the first place.

A Recycled Plot

The storyline of “Kung Fu Panda 4” lacks originality. Po’s quest to save yet another endangered village from an ancient threat feels redundant and uninspired. Instead of the rich character development and emotional depth we’ve come to expect, we’re left with a series of disjointed action scenes and lackluster jokes. 

Neglecting the Furious Five

One of the most disappointing aspects of the film is its treatment of the beloved Furious Five. These characters, who played crucial roles in Po’s previous adventures, are now relegated to the background with minimal impact on the story. Their interactions with Po, once a highlight of the series, are reduced to mere cameos.

Stunning Yet Hollow Animation

While the animation in “Kung Fu Panda 4” is as visually stunning as ever, it can’t mask the film’s weak script. The vibrant landscapes and expertly choreographed fight scenes are impressive, but they feel empty and superficial without a compelling story. It’s as if the filmmakers hoped that impressive visuals alone could carry the film.

Flat Humor

The humor, which was a cornerstone of the earlier films, falls disappointingly flat in this installment. The jokes rely heavily on slapstick and recycled gags, lacking the wit and charm that made us laugh in previous movies. This reliance on tired humor only reinforces the sense that “Kung Fu Panda 4” is more interested in maintaining a profitable brand than in telling a meaningful story.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, “Kung Fu Panda 4” is a letdown for true franchise fans. It fails to capture the heart, creativity, and narrative depth that made its predecessors special. For those hoping for a return to form, this film may feel like a disappointing attempt to cash in on past successes rather than a genuine effort to continue Po’s journey. Let’s hope DreamWorks learns from this misstep and returns to what made “Kung Fu Panda” great in the first place.

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The Idea Man

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Disney’s latest documentary, “The Idea Man,” offers an enthralling and intimate portrait of Jim Henson, the mastermind behind the Muppets and a pioneer in the world of puppetry and children’s entertainment. This documentary not only honors Henson’s legacy but also delves deeply into the creative processes that made him a visionary in the entertainment industry.

“The Idea Man” begins by chronicling Henson’s early years, showcasing his initial forays into puppetry and television. The documentary paints a vivid picture of a young, ambitious Henson who dared to dream beyond conventional storytelling methods. Through rare footage and personal anecdotes from family, friends, and colleagues, viewers gain a comprehensive understanding of Henson’s innovative spirit.

One of the documentary’s strengths lies in its exploration of Henson’s multifaceted personality. Interviews with those who knew him best reveal a man driven by an insatiable curiosity and a profound desire to connect with audiences of all ages. The film highlights how Henson’s unique ability to infuse his creations with humor, heart, and a touch of whimsy made characters like Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Big Bird beloved worldwide.

“The Idea Man” delves into the meticulous craftsmanship that went into Henson’s work. The documentary showcases behind-the-scenes footage of Henson at work, providing an insider’s look at the creative process behind iconic projects like “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show,” and “Fraggle Rock.” These glimpses into his workshop reveal the painstaking detail and boundless imagination that characterized Henson’s approach to puppetry and storytelling.

The documentary also emphasizes Henson’s contributions to the broader landscape of entertainment and technology. His pioneering work in animatronics and special effects, particularly in films like “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth,” is explored in depth. Interviews with contemporary filmmakers and special effects artists underscore Henson’s lasting impact on the industry, cementing his status as a trailblazer whose influence endures.

“The Idea Man” does not shy away from the emotional aspects of Henson’s life. The documentary addresses the challenges he faced, both professionally and personally, and how he navigated the pressures of creative success. This balanced portrayal adds depth to the narrative, making it not only a celebration of Henson’s achievements but also a poignant reminder of his humanity.

Disney’s “The Idea Man” is a must-watch for fans of Jim Henson and anyone interested in the magic of creative storytelling. The documentary is a heartfelt tribute to a man whose imagination knew no bounds and whose work continues to inspire generations. Through a blend of archival footage, personal interviews, and expert analysis, “The Idea Man” offers a rich and engaging look at the life and legacy of Jim Henson.

For those searching for an insightful and inspiring documentary on one of the entertainment industry’s most influential figures, “The Idea Man” is an essential addition to your watchlist.

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Beach boys documentary

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**Rating: ★★★★☆**

Disney Plus’ new documentary, “The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony,” dives deep into the tumultuous, yet harmonious journey of America’s quintessential surf rock band. Directed with a keen eye for both nostalgia and narrative depth, the film offers an intimate look at the band’s rise to stardom, their internal conflicts, and their enduring legacy.

From the outset, the documentary captures the essence of The Beach Boys’ musical genius, spotlighting Brian Wilson’s unparalleled songwriting and the band’s signature harmonies that defined a generation. Archival footage, including rare studio sessions and candid home videos, paints a vivid picture of their creative process and the carefree California lifestyle that inspired their biggest hits. The inclusion of previously unreleased tracks and demos adds a layer of authenticity, giving fans a rare glimpse into the evolution of some of their most iconic songs.

Interviews with surviving band members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine, alongside insights from music historians and contemporary artists influenced by The Beach Boys, enrich the narrative. These personal accounts are heartfelt and, at times, poignant, particularly when addressing the darker chapters of the band’s history—Brian Wilson’s struggles with mental health, the impact of drugs, and the tragic loss of Dennis and Carl Wilson.

The documentary’s strength lies in its balanced portrayal. It doesn’t shy away from the band’s internal discord and the challenges they faced, yet it also celebrates their artistic achievements and cultural impact. The visual style is vibrant, with a seamless blend of past and present, creating a tapestry that feels both nostalgic and fresh.

However, “Endless Harmony” occasionally veers into fan-service territory, glossing over certain controversies and perhaps offering a more sanitized version of events. Despite this, the documentary succeeds in providing a comprehensive overview that will satisfy long-time fans while introducing new audiences to the magic of The Beach Boys.

In conclusion, “The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony” is a must-watch for music lovers and history buffs alike. It captures the spirit of an era, the brilliance of a band, and the timeless appeal of their music. Disney Plus has delivered a documentary that is as much a celebration of The Beach Boys’ legacy as it is a testament to the enduring power of their sound and soul.

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