“Sunset Blvd,” “Roman Holiday” & “The Third Man”” Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 10th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

This week is something completely different.

Looking for something to watch the other evening, I found myself at Turner Classic Movies, savoring the masterful 1950 mystery, “The Third Man.” Orson Welles playing the character with one of the great names of cinema, Harry Lime.

Similarly bereft of something to do the next night, I returned to for the enchantment of Audrey Hepburn’s breakthrough, “Roman Holiday.” Filmed on location in Rome in the early 50s, also starring Gregory Peck.

Then again a few nights later, I hit the jackpot at TCM with arguably the moviest movie ever put on celluloid, Billy Wilder’s incredible “Sunset Boulevard.” It is too good.

I loved them all to the max. As if you couldn’t tell already.

You should check them out. I explain why, and tell you where in my podcast above.

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan


“Vengeance”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 4th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

BJ Novak wrote it.

BJ Novak directed it.

BJ Novak stars in it.

“It” is “Vengeance,” a somewhat fascinating take about what happens when a NY literati type, full of smug prejudices about the Heartland and its people, finds himself in West Texas at the funeral of a former hook up he hardly remembers.

Apparently the young woman, character named Abilene, had been telling her family that she and Novak’s character were a thing. Then she OD’ed in an oil field during a party. But her brother believes she’s been murdered, demanding that Novak help him track down the killer.

Interesting observations, an increasing sense of humanity and some humor ensue.

For more details, and what I think of the film, listen to my podcast below.

Audio MP3

“Nope”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 26th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Who knew what the future would bring for Jordan Peele, when he was teaming with Keegen-Michael Key for those incredibly funny and perceptive comedy sketches?

Not me.

Turns out that writer/ director Peele is making arguably the most interesting American movies these days.

His latest “Nope” is way more than the flying saucer/ Sci Fi flick that is its base.

Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, this insightful, frankly spectacular epic is about a brother/ sister experience. While paying its respects to the origin of moving pictures, early rock & roll, 50s-ish silly TV sitcoms and cheesy roadside attractions.

And, much more, including what would matter most in contemporary life, were the world to actually be invaded by aliens.

Upon reflection, all the diverse elements of “Nope” seem to pretty much fit together.

It’s funny, mysterious, intelligent and incredibly well filmed.

For more, listen to my podcast.

Audio MP3

“Year of Spectacular Men”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 20th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

As I contemplate in my podcasted review, I’m not sure if this is really a rom com or not.

Not that it really matters.

It’s funny.

And entertaining.

And sweet.

Izzy graduates from college, and can’t seem to decide what to do. After she breaks up with her boyfriend, she can’t find romance either.

So she bonds with her sister and their mom. Which women the movie is really about, despite the title.

This charmer brought a smile to my face, however we might wish to categorize it.

“The Year of Spectacular Men” is available to stream with an Amazon Prime membership.

For more details, as usual, listen to my podcast below.

Audio MP3

“The Great Gatsby” (1974): Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 14th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Streaming | No Comments »

I’ve always revered F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great American Novel of the 20th C, “The Great Gatsby.”

Such that it’s always sitting out, so I can pick it up from time, read a few pages, and relish the author’s masterful prose.

This week, for the first time since college, I read in its entirety, cover to cover. The definitive version from the author’s intended final manuscript.

After which, I felt compelled to go back and rewatch the 1974 cinematic ideation featuring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern and Sam Waterston.

I am disinclined to compare a movie to its source material, but felt compelled to do so in this instance.

Listen below to understand why:

Audio MP3

“Babe”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 7th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Needing as I often do these days, a sweet and funny movie, I went back to “Babe,” which I loved when seeing it in a movie house at the time of its release in 1995.

It’s now available at Amazon Prime.

Do not be deceived by general description below. This is not just a story for kids.

It was nominated for the Best Motion Picture Oscar after all.

Babe is a pig, won at a fair by Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell). Babe finds himself in new environs, and must adapt to the cast of characters, who are the other animals on the farm.

Caveat: Ferdinand the Duck might make you laugh so hard you fall out of your seat. Literally.

Babe thinks of himself as a border collie.

Oh, there’s no reason to go into plot points and all that.

This is  as charming and smile-inducing as a movie can get.

I loved it as much this time around, as I did the first.

For more, listen to my podcast below:

Audio MP3

“Elvis”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 26th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | No Comments »

It is a significant topic as deep and long as the entire 20th C.

Elvis Presley.

Elvis.

Baz Luhrmann has attempted to tackle it, in his latest release, simply titled, “Elvis.”

Austin Butler is magnificent as Presley, who was known as the “King of Rock & Roll.”

Tom Hanks not so much as the equally important for the tale to be told manager, the self-proclaimed Colonel Tom Parker.

Because I grew up with Elvis and rock & roll, I have many thoughts and emotions about Presley, as well as about Luhrmann’s manner of telling to tale.

For significantly more details of my thoughts on both, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

“The Old Man”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 22nd, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Streaming, TV | No Comments »

It seems that thirty years ago, CIA agent Dan Chase (Jeff Bridges) went rogue on an operation in Afghanistan.

His superior Harold Harper (John Lithgow), now with the FBI, got drawn into the situation.

It did not go well, or so we learn. But has been swept under the carpet.

Now it’s back, and Chase is being hunted down for termination with extreme prejudice. Why we do not exactly know, at least after two episodes.

Harper is again in the middle of things.

So goes this intriguing new mini-series, “The Old Man,” available on FX and Hulu.

For more reasons why you might choose to watch, listen to my podcast below.

Audio MP3

 


The Importance of Elvis

Posted: June 20th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Music, Personalities | 1 Comment »

This piece was originally published at the turn of the century. It has been very slightly edited for clarity and content in advance of the release this week of the Elvis Presley biopic.

In his book “The Fifties,” David Halberstam chronicles the most misunderstood of the century’s decades. In the tome, he relates a conversation where noted composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein discussed political and social trends with Dick Clurman, an editor at Time magazine. Halberstam quotes Bernstein: “Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force of the twentieth century.”

Incredulous, Clurman suggests some other choice, Picasso perhaps.

Bernstein, not to be deterred, retorts: “(Elvis) changed everything — music, language, clothes, it’s a whole new social revolution . . .”

Elvis Presley is LEO’s Person of the Century.

That is not a typo. No Henry Ford or Winston Churchill or Bill Gates or FDR or Einstein or Rosa Parks or Jackie O could meet our standards at Louisville Eccentric Observer for such critical status.

Elvis Presley is the wise choice, the eccentric choice, the correct choice. Love him or loathe him. Pity his Greek tragedy of a life. Ignore him if so inclined. But don’t make the mistake of dismissing Elvis as irrelevant.

Elvis was the undisputed King of Rock & Roll but no longer a major player on the music scene twenty two years ago when he died ignominiously in his throne room. The causes: Terminal, drug-induced bloat and chronic ennui. He had become the caped, prescription pill-addled Elvis who arrived for a White House audience with Richard Nixon, carrying a handgun as a gift, then requesting a badge to fight drug abuse.

We chose the Elvis who in the summer of 1953 entered the Memphis Recording Service studio at 706 Union in Memphis to record an acetate for his mama. The Elvis who the following year, at the insistence of guitarist Scotty Moore, and with encouragement from Sam Phillips’ secretary Marion Keister, waxed revved versions of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right Mama.” The songs changed Elvis’ life forever.

And the lives of all who heard them.

And life itself.

As Renaissance Woman Caroline Dahl titled her magnificent needlepoint seen above, Elvis was “The New King of Heaven and Hell.”

Elvis Presley. The world’s been a different place since. Read the rest of this entry »


“JazzFest A New Orleans Story”: Film/ Review Podcast

Posted: June 16th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Music, New Orleans | No Comments »

If you are here, you understand that I am obsessed with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

JazzFest.

I’ve attended 34 of them, all but one since 1988, and refer to the gathering to honor the culture, cuisine and music of the Crescent City as “the gravitational pull of my year.”

So, when a new documentary about the Fest came out, I was all over it. Watched it the first moment available on Amazon Prime. (Even though it’s being screened in theaters nationwide, none are doing so in my town.)

That was a week ago. The delay in this review is simply explained.

Such is my emotional attachment to Fest, it’s taken this long for me to conjure a reasonably objective assessment of the flick.

Which doc is, despite some personal objections I have to editorial decisions made, an invigorating take, which depicts the Fest in all its glory.

I recommend you watch. After, of course, listening to my significantly more informational podcast review below:

Audio MP3

“The Conversation”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 9th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 2 Comments »

Though almost fifty years old, this Francis Coppola film starring Gene Hackman is a relevant today as it was when released.

It’s about privacy and security and paranoia.

Hackman plays Harry Caul, a professional bugger, hired to tape a conversation with a couple having an extra-marital affair.

Mystery subtly evolves when Caul, and the audience, start to wonder what’s really going on.

The film deservedly won many awards.

For further reasons why, listen to my podcast review below:

Audio MP3

“Emergency”: Film Review/ Podcast

Posted: June 2nd, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Is it possible to take a hackneyed movie genre and turn it into something else entirely?

Like, say, the it’s the last night of school before vacation let’s party til we puke and do stupid things flick, and use that premise to make a comment on socio-cultural reality, all the while being entertaining.

The answer we now know is Yes.

Thanks to “Emergency,” available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Sean and Kuhnle are all set to be the first black dudes at their college to complete the seven stop Legendary Tour of parties before spring break.

Coming home for their “pregame,” they discover a white girl they don’t know, passed out stoned and drunk on their living room floor.

What to do?

The weirdness usually present in this genre of flicks comes about. But, so too, a take on what it’s like to be young and black in a moment fraught with peril in today’s culture.

This is not diatribe or finger pointing. What this is is an often very funny, continually entertaining and engaging, and periodically revelatory film.

For more, Listen to my podcast below.

Audio MP3