“Mozart in the Jungle”: Review & Podcast

Posted: March 9th, 2018 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

Every Wednesday, my pals Mike and Don and I eat lunch.

Being relatively intelligent blokes, the conversation can veer in any number of directions. Politics. College hoops. Explaining to Don how to use his smart phone. Old high school flames.

Etc, etc, etc.

More often than not, we’ll venture into the latest TV series that’s grabbed our attentions. The other two like the blood and guts stuff.

I’m not much into that sort and seek out more entertaining fare, less fraught with life and death peril.

“Mozart in the Jungle” fits easily outside the grizzly.

And I just power watched the latest, and, I believe, final season, in two evening sittings.

I couldn’t stop smiling.

Listen up for more reasons to check it out on Amazon Prime:

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“Red Sparrow”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: March 4th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

In my neck of the woods, her hometown, the release of Jennifer Lawrence’s latest film is always a thing.

Her recent efforts in some truly mediocre cinematic concoctions have been the only thing worth considering.

But there’s always hope, right?

In her latest, “Red Sparrow,” she plays an intense, revenge-minded former member of the Bolshoi  Ballet, who suffers a career ending injury and is then coerced into becoming an undercover operative for the government by her uncle.

Ms. Lawrence’s ever present acting chops are the only thing worthwhile in this otherwise convoluted, too often vicious, occasionally sensual, ever mediocre offering.

Is watching Ms. Jen work her thespianic magic enough for you to head to the movie house?

It was for me.

You’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

For a more in depth consideration, including a startling revelation of what Ms. Lawrence’s character and your truly share in common, listen below:

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“Game Night”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: February 24th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

One of my guilty pleasure movies from the past is “The Game,” in which Michael Douglas plays a bored, rich fellow who gets involved with, well, this game, where he’s dropped into then trapped in an adventure/mystery with peril to his personal well being.

What’s real? What isn’t? Are these real bad guys? Or just actors that are part of the charade?

It’s a compelling cinematic premise.

So, when I saw the preview for “Game Night,” featuring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, with that general sort of plotline but played for laughs, I was all in.

The two leads, along with Jesse Plemons, who plays their eery, somewhat unhinged neighbor, work to make this thing work.

There are laughs. There is some intrigue. There are, of course, twists and turns, so the audience will be forced to wonder what’s real and what’s a ruse, as part of the scenario where one of their weekly game night crew of friends gets kidnapped?

For the life of me, I don’t understand why McAdams doesn’t get more work? She has the facility for comedy, which shows up here in what’s an ultimately thinner than one would like plot.

This could have been better with a shade more inventiveness and creativity.

But “Game Night” is a pleasant popcorn diversion, and hardly a waste of time.

Any laughs we can get in these troubled times is a good thing.

For more, listen up:

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“Mudbound”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: February 16th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Crafting a movie that is both vast in scope and an intimate portrayal of genuine human interaction is always difficult.

But when it’s done right, it’s a joyous cinematic experience, even if the subject matter is not the easiest to digest.

Dee Rees has accomplished something special with “Mudbound,” which is set in the Mississippi Delta just after WWII, and focuses on the interaction of two families — one black, one white — with each other and with society.

It is gorgeous to view. It is entrancing to contemplate.

The ensemble cast, led by Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund, is pitch perfect. Both in the portrayals, and the interaction of the characters.

This movie has generated hardly a glance during the awards season.

I am stunned frankly. It is, one fellow’s opinion, the best film released in 2017. It’s available for viewing on Netflix.

For a more detailed look at the film, listen below:

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Forgotten Film Gems & Performances from 2017

Posted: February 8th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It’s movie awards season, and, as always, the buzz has narrowed down to a few movies and screen acting performances.

As usual, it’s not fair, really, is it?

“Best” is subjective, though most all of this year’s winners so far and nominees for the Oscars are worthy.

But in my little podcast today, I remind one and all of some movies you may missed, or never heard of at all. As well as of some great acting performances that didn’t get nominated.

Including what I think is the best performance by a male actor, a portrayal that has garnered nary a mention at the awards shows.

But you’ll have to listen up to find out who it is and what the movie is?

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“1945” & “Let Yourself Go”: Film Festival Previews

Posted: February 3rd, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There are any number of interesting film festivals that play Louisville through the year.

Since they give cinemaniacs a chance to view films we wouldn’t otherwise see, they are all worthy.

One of my favorites — essentially because the powers that be give me access to the movies in advance and request reviews — is the Jewish Film Festival.

And, there’s of course the joke I pull out every year, a play on an old Levy’s rye bread advert, the Jewish Film Festival isn’t just for Jews.

You can see a synopsis of each film and schedule of the whole schmear here. 

Two I viewed that especially grabbed my attention are “1945” and “Let Yourself Go.”

The former is a fascinating. visually elegant black and white movie set on one day in a Hungarian village at the end of WWII, when a couple mysterious men arrive by train with two wooden foot locker-sized crates, setting the town atizzy.

The latter is a free spirited Italian romantic comedy about a psychotherapist who needs exercise and thus meets a free spirited personal trainer. Cockamamie ensues.

Check out the above link for the full festival schedule.

For more insight on these two movies including date and time of showing and venue, listen below:

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“The Commuter”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: January 26th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Film lovers out here in the Heartland understand that many of the award quality films don’t find their way on to the screen in their town until January of the following year.

It’s Hollywoodland’s way.

So it is this season with “The Post.” And “Call Me By Your Name.” And “The Phantom Thread.”

All of which, like most movie buffs, I was anxious to see.

Well, truth be told, not that anxious frankly.

Which is why on the day the latter two of those heralded releases opened in my town, I instead went to see Liam Neeson in his latest action adventure, “The Commuter.”

Wha, uh, why, ahem, is he crazy, has c d k finally slipped fully into his dotage? What gives?

Legit questions all.

For the answers, as well as to be seriously entertained, click the play button below. All shall be revealed.

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“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: Review Podcast

Posted: January 18th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It’s true what they say about awards shows. They’ll get you to watch something you’ve been putting off.

Months ago, when the pilot for the Amazon Prime series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” first came out, I watched the episode. But, it was late. I was weary and should have been in bed already. Couldn’t lock in. So I turned it off midway.

And never returned, despite recommendations from some folks whose taste I acknowledge, until . . . I saw the cast standing on stage, a winner at the Golden Globes. And figured it was time to reconsider.

So I paid a return visit last weekend, ending up power watching the 8 part series over two nights.

It is mostly comedy. A bit of drama. And, most important, eminently entertaining.

For more details, listen below:

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“I, Tonya”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: January 10th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

So, Allison Janney won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of figure skater Tonya Harding’s abusive mother in “I, Tonya.”

Thus, many moviegoers unfamiliar with the peculiar curiosity that was Harding’s flirtation with Olympic glory and rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan, are now saying to themselves, “Uh, well, I guess maybe I should see this film.”

The movie does have its charms, other than Janney’s charismatic and admittedly spot on portrayal.

The film is mostly, for me anyway, a case study of Harding’s difficult upbringing, her talent and quest to feel good about herself and be accepted in the world figure skating community. It’s a sad tale really. So I had some issues with the scenes in the film played for condescending laughs.

But, all in all, so odd is the whole affair and how Harding has dealt with it in the aftermath, that they are worthy of consideration despite the filmmaker’s arguable choices in rendering them.

Margot Robbie energetically portrays Harding.

For more, listen up:

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“The Shape of Water”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: January 4th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Guillermo del Toro’s phantasmagoric “The Shape of Water” aspires to so much, in a manner that pulls its audience into its beguiling dreamscape, that it overcomes whatever minor flaws one might find.

It is romantic. Oh so very very romantic.

It is psychedelic.

There is nostalgia within nostalgia.

Despite a framework that is an obvious reference to 1950s phantom from the depths drive in movie scenarios, a wooden genre full with stereotypes, the human interaction delves deep, commenting on social mores of the times, then and now.

Elisa (Sally Hawkins, magnificent as usual) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are cleaning ladies in one of those top secret government facilities in which these movies are always set. It is of course the 1950s. Scientists flit about, experimenting. There are lots of military.  Read the rest of this entry »

“All the Money in the World”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: December 27th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

“All the Money in the World” is, on its face, the generally true tale of the kidnapping and rescue of J Paul Getty III, the grandson of the then richest man extant.

It is also about greed, how the addiction to accumulation of wealth skews family dynamics, and, from a process standpoint, how to reedit and shoot a movie weeks before it is to be released.

Getty the family patriarch was originally played by now disgraced Kevin Spacey. When he became persona non grata in Hollywoodland, he was replaced in the movie by Christopher Plummer.

That director Ridley Scott and his editors intertwined the original scenes and newly shot ones is the essence of cinematic craft.

So too the performances of the leads. Christopher Plummer is a marvelous cranky Getty the elder. Michelle Williams as the kidnapped’s mother is her usual exemplary self in her first truly adult role.

For more, listen up:

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“The Florida Project”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: December 22nd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

When it really works, cinema can immerse viewers into the sights and sounds and existences of worlds they would not otherwise be privy to.

“The Florida Project” is just such a film, set on the outskirts of Orlando, near Disney World, at a motel called Magic Kingdom, full with folks trying to overcome their hardscrabble lives.

Neophyte Brooklynn Prince is Moonie, the adolescent who lives in a room there with her mother Jancey, played by first time actor Brie Vinaite. Moonie runs the streets with her pals, while her mom tries to make do.

Director Sean Baker has crafted a deft examination of this world that is astute, generous and devoid of judgement.

The screen is filled with sun-splashed pastel visual splendor.

As well as stirring performances, including that of Willem Dafoe as Bobby, the motel manager.

It’s my favorite movie of the year so far.

For more, listen up:

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