“Vice”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: February 9th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

I saw an interview with David Koechner the other day.

The very funny comedic actor, whose face you know if not his name, was asked who is the funniest person he knows? This is a fellow who has worked with Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carrell, Fred Willard, Kathryn Hahn, Seth Rogan, and Fred Armisen, all of whom have made somebody’s list as funniest person in film.

Koechner’s seriously surprising answer was Adam McKay, the guy who directed all of the above in the iconic “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”

Well, let’s just say Mr. McKay set aside the funny biz when writing and directing “Vice,” a searing cinematic portrait of former Veep, Dick Cheney.

Not that there isn’t some humor in the flick, but it’s point isn’t to draw laughs.

Mr. McKay, it is apparent, considers Cheney a not very likable fellow, actually an evil guy with a serious agenda.

If you have been skeptical of Cheney, his motives and modus operandi, well, this film will resonate.

On the flip side, it is reported that Ivanka and Jared walked out of the screening they attended.

For more about the movie, listen up:

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“Cold War”: Culture Maven on Film

Posted: February 8th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

How enchanting that a resonant tale can be told in 89 minutes, in black & white on a screen with old school squarish aspect ratio.

But it is so with the import from Poland, “Cold War.”

It is a movie which crisply and uniquely tales the tale of love and the politics and culture of the time and place.

We never quite learn the whys and wherefores of Zula.

Or of her lover Wiktor.

Or, even the how did they come to fall in love.

But that mystery is all part of the fascination with this unique cinematic adventure.

For more on the film, listen up:

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Confessions of a Compulsive Blender

Posted: February 8th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Food, Ruminations | 5 Comments »

The true depth of my affliction struck with a not so terrible swift sword just this morning.

As I have done for decades, I was stirring the contents of a large jar of Smuckers Natural Chunky Peanut Butter, which sits on the shelf in a state of separation. “Oil separation is natural,” it states right on the cap.

Before I go on, a bit of background. For breakfast every morning — every single morning, except for maybe a couple of really cold winter days, when a bowl of oatmeal calls my name — I eat a sliced apple, preferably Honeycrisp, smothered in peanut butter.

Natural peanut butter. No added oils. No added sugar. No added nothing. Except a pinch of salt. “Less than 1%,” according to the label.

For years, it was all Smuckers all the time.

Always chunky for the necessary hint o’ crunch.

Several years back, roaming the aisles of Whole Foods, I discovered their equivalent house brand. Simply called 365 Peanut Butter Crunchy. Dry Roasted Peanuts, Salt. Read the rest of this entry »


“Who Will Write Our History”: Film Review/ Podcast

Posted: January 31st, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

The pen is mightier than the sword. 

No, not Shakespeare, Edward Bulwer-Lytton actually from a play he wrote about Cardinal Richelieu, or so I’m advised, but it remains a cliché of consequence nonetheless.

Meaning, of course, there is this truth: That there are circumstances where combat in its classic sense isn’t as effective chronicling a situation which the world needs to know about.

Such as, it would seem, was the situation the Jewish people imprisoned and tortured in the Warsaw Ghetto. Though there was a resistance of sorts in the classic sense, the Nazis, as was their wont, murdered with impunity for fun and sport and their belief in the “Final Solution.”

Realizing that the situation was dire, that most inhabitants of the enclave would not survive, that there wasn’t any manner to match the German captors with firepower, a group formed to gather diaries of first hand accounts of the terror, photos, written accounts, journals, anything that could provide future generations and historians a realistic look at the horrors taking place.

All done clandestinely, for obvious reasons.

The group was called Oyneg Shabbes, “the joys of Sabbath.”

It was an endeavor as audacious as it was courageous.

Roberta Grossman’s documentary, “Who Will Write Our History?,” using the words of those who were there, newsreel footage and some reenactment, tells the fascinating and important tale. We learn how the group met its goals, how their work was retrieved from the rubble after the war.

The well-crafted and intriguing movie is among many at this year’s Jewish Film Festival, which starts February 7..

“Who Will Write Our History” will be shown at Bellarmine’s Wyatt Hall at 7:30 on Saturday, February 9.

For further information on this film and the others being shown, google up Louisville Jewish Film Festival.

And, listen to the podcast below:

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“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” & “The Favourite”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 18th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

I’ve been laid up with a leg injury since October, as some of you paying close attention might know, so it’s great to be out and about, if not completely recovered yet.

Which ambulatory ability means I could stop reviewing fare I stream on the computer, and actually make it to the movie house.

Fortunately two films that have been out for awhile — and that I would have reviewed weeks ago under normal circumstances — are still on the big screen.

Hip hip hooray.

Both “The Favourite” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” feature strong female characters, all rendered exquisitely with the highest of craft.

Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in the former, a period piece, set in England in the 18th century. Melissa McCarthy in serious mode as a fallen-on-hard-times writer, who finds a felonious way to use her talents and support herself.

For more reasons to see these films, listen below:

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“Bird Box”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 11th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Because I felt compelled to keep up with what’s happening in our that was soooo five minutes ago internet meme world, I viewed Netflix’s latest “horror” film craze, “Bird Box.”

It’s about this peril that all of a sudden inexplicably enshrouds the globe and any human that looks at whatever it is immediately commits suicide.

So the lucky few who survive the immediate onslaught take to living indoors with the blinds pulled and the windows shuttered. The thingamajig can’t get inside, or so it would seem.

And when those folks who do survive go outside they wear a blindfold so they won’t look at, you know, it. Whatever it is.

Which makes things like driving, or playing pitch and catch with your kid problematic at the very least.

So, the question becomes whether Ms. Bullock will survive? And what about the kid she is carrying when the film begins?

Sooooooooo, there’s the overview without spoilers.

For somewhat more detail, please listen:

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A Quick Look Back at Cinema 2018

Posted: January 4th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There were a number of performances by women this year, some that grabbed my attention more than anything else at the movie house.

A couple by very young actors in the films, “Eighth Grade,” and “Leave No Trace.”

And one most of you not only have probably not seen, but might not even have heard of. “Support the Girls.”

Plus the first time indigenous actor who was featured in Alfonso Cuarón’s epic, “Roma.”

I also reveal my favorite comedy and favorite documentary.

I’d exposit more about all here. But, ya know, I’m tired. It’s been a long day.

So, if you’re curious, you’ll need to click below.

So, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Springsteen on Broadway”

Posted: December 21st, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

There are many who pay attention to my reviews who prefer them written, and would rather not listen to my podcasts. I try to accommodate them.

Well, kids, this time around, those folks are SOL.

There was something about the video recording of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiographical Broadway show — the way he masterfully tells a story perhaps — that said to me: c d, your review needs to be you talking.

So it is.

For reasons you can hear when you listen, I was taken by this performance far more than I thought I would be in advance. I am far from a Springsteen cultist.

Please listen:

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Film Review & Podcast: “Roma”

Posted: December 16th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Having fashioned a few blockbusters — “Gravity,” one of the Harry Potter franchise & more — director Alfonso Cuarón earned the cred to pick and choose his projects.

He eschewed going big again.

As auteur Federico Fellini once did, hearkening back to distinct memories of his youth with “Amarcord,” Cuarón has fashioned an indelible masterpiece of a remembrance with “Roma,” titled for the middle class neighborhood of Mexico City in which the director was reared. This is significantly more intimate than the nostalgia of the Italian fantasist.

Cuarón has said that most every set piece is as he remembers the early 70s moments as a sub teen.

Yet what the director/ writer/ editor/ director of photography has done is not to center the film on himself but on the beloved domestic of his household, here named Cleo and poignantly portrayed by first time indigenous actor Yalitza Aparicio.

She serves a family of three boys, a girl, a maternal grandma, a mother, a dog, and a mostly absent father — the same as Cuarón’s — with much of the film taking place in a home, which is an exact recreation of that of the creator’s youth.

Shot in high definition black & white — a brilliant choice most always — the movie is both epic and very personal.

There is an emotionally wrenching scene depicting childbirth, and an equally unsettling one when Cleo goes to the countryside to find the father of her child. There is scene much resembling Renoir’s “Rules of the Game,” when the family visits a holiday party at a lux spot away from the city. There is a scene near the end, when the family is vacationing at the beach, which depicts allegorically but true to life, Cleo’s existence in microcosm.

But the one that most represents the director’s memories and focus is a simple one. The family is sitting around together, watching television. Cleo comes in to serve them snacks, and comfortably joins in, sitting beside the couch. At which time, assumably Cuarón as a kid, casually puts his arm around her.

Mexico, having been governed by a less than beneficent regime for decades, there is a political presence to the film. Military in the streets. A force of young and disenchanted training in the hinterlands. A student rebellion, quelled mercilessly. But it is presented — brilliantly so — only as context for the interactions of the family and those who serve them.

The scene when grandmother takes Cleo to buy a baby carriage will haunt you.

So you might wonder from this cursory representation how a two hour film about a Mexican servant might be the best film of the year, as many noteworthy critics have suggested?

To which I would reply: Simply watch the film now available on Netflix.

In its detail and vision and execution, it is filmmaking of the highest order. There is subtle craft in every shot and edit.

“Roma” is one arresting film.

Should you want to hear my voice say much the same as I’ve expressed here — OK there’s a bit more — listen up:

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“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: A Reconsideration of S2

Posted: December 11th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, TV | No Comments »

The other day, an old college chum sent me a review of a film he figures I’d be interested in.

In the missive, he said something to the effect of, I guess you don’t like to read reviews in advance, so it won’t color your take on films.

To which I responded, au contraire, I read far too many reviews in advance, have favorite reviewers who are go to, and I’m sure that habit, for better or worse, does color my perspective.

I also have my own personal predilections which affect my take on a movie or TV series. Coen Brothers always get a break in advance.

Or a second season of a series I loved the first time around, like “Mozart in the Jungle.”

Or, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

At the bottom here, you can listen to my podcasted review of Season 2, rendered for my FPK reviewing duties after watching the first three of the ten episode second season of the beloved, award-winning Amazon Prime comedy.

After consuming, in short time, the rest of the Season 2, I need to posit a more refined and considered take that is positive, but not as much so.

At the time when the series is set, the 1950s, there was a common if sexist in retrospect saying, “A girl has the right to change her mind.”

Well, I’m changing mine. At least, somewhat. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review Podcast: “The Kominsky Method”

Posted: November 29th, 2018 | Filed under: Ruminations | 1 Comment »

You know how some time you see a movie or a TV series, and, after watching a bit, you say to yourself, that character or those characters, I’m just like them?

Happens every so often.

And it did with me, when I checked out the new Netflix series, “The Kominsky Method.”

Which sweet endeavor features Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas as a couple of alter cockers, dealing with those issues which come with that territory.

If you want more specifics, listen to my podcasted review, or just watch the series.

Anyway, I personally loved it. Partially because I related so much with the two characters. But also because it’s excellently done, and it is eminently endearing and entertaining.

Not as out there as the Larry David Show, with which it shares some elements. Just daily interaction of a couple old pals coping with the exigencies of their well worn lives as pals.

For more, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Posted: November 21st, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I am a fan boy of Joel and Ethan Coen.

Which means I am predisposed to appreciate their always unique cinematic output, the genius of the verbosity they put in their characters mouths, the visual acuity of their frames and the underlying absurdity of life that is usually present in their work.

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” if a bit darker than I would have preferred, is still a keeper. And among the best of the Coens’ recent work.

It is set in the old west, and presented as a series of vignettes, framed as a book of tales from that time.

There are shootouts and wagon trains and bank robbers and singing cowpokes and prospectors and a group of erudite eccentrics on their last stagecoach ride.

There is loads of humor here. As well as the contemplation of death.

There is the yin. There is the yang.

It is always interesting, ever unique, as the Coens tend to be.

For a deeper contemplation of the film, listen up:

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