Culture Maven on Film: “A Long Strange Trip”

Posted: June 15th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

You may love the Grateful Dead. Perhaps even be an acolyte.

You may hate the Grateful Dead, even if a music buff. Have found their music thin, lacking soul.

You may never have heard a note of their music, or may or may not be aware of the extent of the band’s cultural and social relevance.

So, the idea of a five hourish documentary on the band and the culture surrounding it might pique your interest. Or, causing a yawn.

Never a Deadhead, but having heard the group any number of times, and being an observer as I say of the passing scene, I am fascinated by this excellent documentary.

For more, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan”

Posted: June 9th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Native Louisvillian Wendy Whelan was for years the prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet.

She retired from that heralded company a couple of years back.

This is a fascinating and quite intimate documentary about how all that came about.

There is engrossing footage of Ms. Whelan’s craft, displaying why she ascended to the top of the world of American ballet. But also her emotions as she contemplated the end of her run with the company.

The film is currently scheduled for but five showings in Louisville next weekend only, June 16-18 at the Speed Museum Theater.

For a more in depth analysis why you should see this film, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Wonder Woman”

Posted: June 2nd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

In the early 80s I had a crush on a woman who looked just like Lynda Carter, who was the Wonder Woman of the ’70s TV series.

Which is of zero consequence here, other than to say I enjoyed the new film release of “Wonder Woman.”

To the extent that I only dwell on my self indulgence but for a short interlude at the commencement of my review. But then proceed to spend most of it actually talking about the movie.

OK, there’s one other diversion.

But also an incisive look at the film, which is, more importantly, entertaining.

Listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Wizard of Lies”

Posted: May 30th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Falls of the rich and famous from grace never seem to fail to fascinate.

Given the amount of money Bernie Madoff stole from people — billions of dollars — to live a lavish lifestyle and turn himself into a financial superstar, the story of his comeuppance remains captivating a decade after the fact.

This HBO film, starring Rober DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Hank Azaria, depicts the fall, focusing on what happened to the Madoff family.

It’s based on interviews with Madoff, after he’d gone to prison.

Did Ruth and the sons know?

Well, watch the film. I do hint at the answer in my podcast review below:

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Film Review Podcast: “Baywatch”

Posted: May 26th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

What I shall assume you are expecting, if you choose to listen to the podcasted review below, is a pithy dismissal of this cinemazation of the iconic TV series that made Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff famous.

Think again.

Of course, there’s not much there there with this iteration of Baywatch, featuring The Rock, Zac Efron, Kelly Rohrbach and Alexandra Daddario.

What did you expect, the filmmakers to turn this into something Shakespearean?

Despite the obvious and expected deficiencies, I found “Baywatch” way more than palatable.

Of course, it ain’t gonna win any awards.

But, at the very least, it will allow us to determine if Dwayne Johnson has what it takes to win the presidency in 2020?

Do listen below:

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Film Review Podcast: “I Love Dick”

Posted: May 23rd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Here’s what I’m going to admit from the get go.

This review is arguably the most unprofessional I’ve ever posted.

Not because of the perspective I give on the subject matter, an Amazon Prime TV series titled “I Love Dick.” I try to be true about that.

But because of the haphazard way I went about recording the review.

Frankly I’m not sure why I didn’t uphold the usually high standards to which I aspire? I just didn’t. It’s late in the afternoon. I have someplace to be. I’m a bit cranky. No, actually a lot cranky.

Etc, etc, etc.

So, if I haven’t pushed you away already, feel free to listen to the free form review below.

But here’s what is important: The series, “I Love Dick,” is worth checking out. If, of course, you have Amazon Prime.

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Film Review Podcast: “Norman”

Posted: May 19th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There are many times when, during his lengthy film career, Richard Gere’s performances have seemed diffuse, somewhat cool, too understated as if he were distancing himself from his character.

Not so by a long shot in this intriguing little film with the full lengthy title, “Norman The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.”

The character is unique.

And Gere’s performance is the finest of his career.

This is a fascinating study of an earnest fellow in the New York business/ Jewish community, who wants to be a player, to get things done and to be well liked.

How it all plays out makes for marvelous cinema.

For more details, listen below:

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Film Review Podcast: “Free Fire”

Posted: May 11th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Truth be told, this is the kind of movie I generally avoid as if it were the reincarnation of the Bubonic Plague.

In a nutshell, it’s about a gun deal for some M16s in a grimy warehouse in the late 70s that ends up with a bunch of ne’er do wells shooting at a bunch of other bad dudes (and one woman, Brie Larson).

Half hour of set up.

Sixty minutes of gunfire.

And . . . that . . . is . . . essentially . . . the plot.

There are some clever bon mots tossed back and forth, the sort of banter people of this ilk in real life would never utter.

And that is the sum total of what you get.

I do provide some more insight, if curious, in the podcast below.

 

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Film Review Podcast: “Their Finest”

Posted: May 5th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

One of the most difficult tasks in crafting a movie is the ability to tell several stories — all worthy — at the same time. While giving credence to all, creating legitimate connections and not losing focus.

“Their Finest,” on its face a film about the British film industry during the Blitz years of WWII, succeeds.

It’s also a romance.

And a film about shifting cultural priorities.

While being both very funny at times. And at other moments being quite bleak.

All of which might sound like too much but it’s wrapped up in a very charming bit of cinema.

For more, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Fargo Season 3”

Posted: April 21st, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I love love love the Coen Brothers classic, “Fargo.”

Yes, ye Achiever acolytes, love it even more, much more, that “The Big Lebowski.”

So resonant was the film that it has spawned a franchise of mini-series on FX. They have been created by Noah Hawley, with the imprimatur of the Coen Bros. themselves.

Each series has a familiarity for those who have seen the flick. Yet each has a different plot with different characters, all played out in Minnesota.

The third season started this past Wednesday on FX, and the wonder shall be revealed over the next 10 weeks or so.

For more, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Personal Shopper”

Posted: April 16th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

As I discuss more fully below, this strange, quirky film with the ever disagreeable Kristen Stewart on screen most all of the time poses an interesting question about film reviewers.

“Personal Shopper” has been just about universally lauded by reviewers.

But, any number of regular film loving movie goers were non-plussed by the flick. Including three people whose opinions I admire.

I liked parts of the film but I don’t think they serve its main focus.

For a more complete discussion of the movie, and a theory about the divergence of opinion on films between critics and audience, you’ll need to listen below.

 

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Film Review Podcast: “Going In Style”

Posted: April 11th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Despite the reality that Alan Arkin is really getting up in years, and that the mishuggenah dude I loved in my favorite comedy ever, the original “The In Laws” (Do not accept the lame redux.), I still can’t resist his movies.

And when I saw that he was starring with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, stalwarts both, I knew I had to see “Going in Style.”

Even though I suspected from the premise that it probably wouldn’t fire.

Three old farts lose their pensions, so they decide to rob a bank. The chances for success were slim, but I ventured forth nonetheless.

So mundane was the screenplay, and the hackneyed plot machinations, that even those three acting aces couldn’t breathe life into it.

Sigh.

For a more in depth analysis, listen below:

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