“The Forty-Year-Old Version”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: October 18th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There are more than a few of us who get to “middle age,” say the cusp of our fortieth birthday, and wonder what life has in store?

Such is the conundrum for Radha, the centerpiece of director/ screenwriter/ star Radha Blank’s film debut.

It’s streaming on Netflix.

The character Radha was an up and comer a decade earlier, and now she finds herself teaching HS drama to make her rent. Archie, her bestie from HS (Peter Kim) is her agent and is trying this best to get one of her plays staged.

Radha is also considering the world of hip hop, a musical genre for which she has a legitimate affinity.

She’s also dealing with grief from the death of her artist mother.

The black and white film set in NYC is often funny, sometimes awkward and significantly insightful. And full with many minor but craftily designed minor characters.

For more insight and info, listen to the podcast below.

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“Fargo Season 4”: Review/ Podcast

Posted: October 11th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

I love love love the Coen Brothers’ “Fargo,” and am also a believer in Noah Hawley’s FX TV series, which is an offshoot of it.

“Fargo” is now in Season 4, and this time around is ostensibly about a 1950 gang war in Kansas City, between the entrenched local mafia and an ambitious gang of up and comers, led by Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon.

But what I love most about these series are the characters.

Most all quirky.

Often evil.

Sometimes both.

Jessie Buckley’s nurse Oraetta Mayflower is the one who has pulled me in this go round.

I’ve watched three episodes as of this writing, and am intrigued. But I haven’t a clue yet what her motives are.

Which is to say, I’m locked in.

For more reasons why you should consider checking out Fargo Season 4 on FX, listen to the podcast below

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“My Octopus Teacher”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: October 4th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I’ll cut to the chase.

This extraordinary real life film is my favorite of the year.

It bears the Culture Maven’s highest recommendation.

It’s on Netflix. Go watch it. It’s even kid friendly.

In the broadest sense, it’s about a fellow Craig Foster — whom I believe I mistakenly call a naturist instead of a naturalist in my podcast — who takes to diving in a kelp forrest in the Atlantic, off the shore of South Africa.

Where he develops a year long relationship with an octopus.

This is real life, a documentary, not drama or animated fantasy.

It is visually sumptuous.

It is instructional.

It is emotive.

For more info, listen to my podcast below:

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“Enola Holmes”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: September 28th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I’ve been aware of Sherlock Holmes for decades, and with the various and sundry retellings of his detective prowess.

But, frankly, I never knew he and officious brother Mycroft had a younger sister.

Well, they do. And here young Enola Holmes is portrayed with charm and charisma by Millie Bobby Brown.

When mother (Helena Bonham Carter) disappears, Enola is off to London to find her, and discover what she’s up to.

The Netflix film is a bit longer than it might be. And the plot wobbles some.

But so enchanting is Brown in the lead, that all that is eventually forgiven.

For further edification, listen to the podcast below:

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“Amélie”: Film Review/Podcast

Posted: September 17th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Over the last several months, the hints kept mounting that I should go back and rewatch Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s romantic fable from 2001, starring Audrey Tautou.

So, I finally did last night, at HBO On Demand.

And, oh my, it’s even better than I remember, confirming why I’ve always considered it one of my twenty or so favorite movies.

Amélie, a waitress in a Montmarte bistro, takes to being an angel of sorts, helping those around her to move beyond their boundaries. She comes in contact with all sorts of interesting folks.

Along the way, she finds love of her own. I mean, you know, this is a French flick, right?

Plus it all takes place in the Paris of our dreams.

For significantly more insight into this film, which comes with my highest recommendation, listen to the podcast below:

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“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: September 8th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Charlie Kaufman has been sort of a cult fave since he wrote the screenplays for the exceptionally weird, but entertaining, often delightful “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Then he began directing also, and his movies got a might darker and ever more cerebral along the way.

His latest, available on Netflix, stars Jesse Plemons (as a character named Jesse) and Jessie Buckley, who has one of several names. Or, perhaps none at all.

That’s but the beginning of the incomprehensibility.

The film is called, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” which refers to their relationship, or so it would seem, rather than either ending his or her life.

The movie is as bleak as its title.

I’d suggest listening to the entirety of my review below, should you be considering viewing this.

Just sayin’.

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“Goodbye Columbus”: Film/Novella Review Podcast

Posted: August 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Here’s the deal.

I cannot recall ever comparing a film with the book it may have been based upon.

They are separate creative entities, and succeed or fail separately, regardless of how similar or different they might be.

A film’s a film.

A novel’s a novel.

So, what we have here with “Goodbye Columbus,” the 1969 film based on Philip Roth’s novella from a decade earlier, is an exception to my no longer steadfast rule.

I found myself, watching the movie, and feeling differently about it, than when I viewed it at the time of its release. So I pulled the book off the shelf, and reread it.

And, in an unexpected turn, I felt compelled to compare them.

To learn what I think, listen to the podcast below:

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“Punching the Clown”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 24th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Comedian Henry Phillips is tired of life on the road.

His pithy songs seem to fly over the heads of his audiences in the heartland.

He’s tired of sleeping in his car.

So he moves to L A, in search of the proverbial “fame and fortune.”

Which he might have found, had he not innocently asked the wannabe mogul at the record company where the delicious bagel came from?

This is a small, independent, award-winning satire about the music biz and La La Land social scene from 2009. And it works.

Very clever.

Most pungent.

Most important: Funny.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

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“An Easy Girl”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 16th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There is a continuing strain in French cinema of films that contemplate the obsession of men with young sensual women.

On its face, Rebecca Zlotowski’s new release, “An Easy Girl,” falls squarely within that genre.

To be sure, that element is present here.

But this movie is really the coming of age story of Naima (Mina Farid), who has just turned 16 and lives modestly with her mother, who is a maid at a tony hotel in Cannes. Naima intends to spend the summer, figuring out what she wishes to do in life.

She is visited by her very sexual, devil may care, 22 year old cousin, Sofia (Zahia Dehar), who soon takes up with a rich Brazilian with a big yacht. Naima tags along, and mostly observes. And starts the maturation process.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Night Manager”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 11th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

So, as such obsessions evolve, I find myself currently seeking out spy capers to fill the time during this, uh, pandemic.

I have two more episodes of “The Bureau” to watch, but must wait until they are revealed the next couple of Thursdays.

So I tracked down “The Night Manager,” a 2016 BBC six episode series from the pen of John Le Carré, available on Amazon Prime.

Tom Hiddleston has a career in the hospitality industry, until he’s drawn into international arms smuggling chicanery, after the mistress of the owner of a ritzy hotel where he’s working in Cairo, hands him some documents to copy.

He falls in with MI6 agent Olivia Coleman, who is obsessed with bringing down the bad guy, played with suitable arrogance by Hugh Laurie. Hiddleston goes deep cover, seeking to infiltrate the bad guy’s gang.

Intrigue ensues.

For more details about this addictive series, listen to my podcast below:

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“The Go-Go’s”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 2nd, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | No Comments »

History of Rock & Roll Band documentaries have a certain, very familiar story arc.

It seems to be a trend.

This Showtime take on The Go-Go’s is no different.

Other than the fact that they were the first all female band, who wrote their own songs, and played their own instruments, that made a #1 album.

So, yeah, anything else that makes this doc worth watching?

Other than why Jann Wenner’s kept them out of the Rock & Roll HoF?

Or, what’s the story behind those towels they’re wearing on the cover of their first album?

For more reasons, why you might enjoy this pro forma documentary as I did, listen to the podcast below.

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“Mel Brooks Make A Noise”: Film Review Podcasst

Posted: July 29th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It was one of those days that come all too often in these cockamamie times.

I needed something familiar, comfortable, funny and sweet, to take me away from the present.

To see the film I was thinking of, I would have had to subscribe to yet another streaming service. And, I mean, enough is enough, right?

So, surfing about Amazon Prime I came upon this delightful documentary about one of America’s great all-time funnymen.

Among his many other successes — including how he won Anne Bancroft’s heart from the get go — Mel Brooks created two of, oh, the ten funniest films ever. Both of which were released in the same calendar year, 1974.

Plus, it’s not like “Blazing Saddles” and the even more brilliant “Young Frankenstein” were his only noteworthy accomplishments.

One of the reasons I cherish this documentary so much is that we learn more about Brooks as a human being. How intelligent and empowering to women he has been.

Then there’s all the great insider stories. Like his relationship with Alfred Hitchcock.

For more info, listen to the podcast below:

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