“Eighth Grade”: Film Review Podcast

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

Is there a time in our lives more fraught with emotional peril than early pubescence?

I don’t think so.

And that period of life is what is examined in such a finely detailed and emotionally fraught way in Bo Burnham’s excellent “Eighth Grade.”

Kayla, a marvelous Elsie Fisher, is on the screen every moment, as we feel every nuance of the anxieties and awkwardness attendant to her 14 year old existence.

There isn’t a single artificial moment in this film, which simply follows Kayla. At school. At a party. At dinner with her single dad. Alone in her room with her phone and computer as “entranceways” to the outside world.

As modest as its intentions may be, “Eighth Grade,” it says here, is one of 2018’s best movies.

For more details, listen up:

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“Three Identical Strangers”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 22nd, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

You may have heard the story in the early 80s of the college aged triplets who didn’t know of each other’s existence and meet for the first time. It was all over the news.

How they became best of friends, and the darlings of the New York party scene, and later owners of their own restaurant.

Well, this is the story behind the story.

It is a fascinating documentary.

Certainly one of my favorite films of the year.

And a movie which adds gravitas to the old saying: Truth is stranger than fiction.

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“Leave No Trace”: Film Review Podcast

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

Ben Foster quietly and intensely plays a veteran father, whose military experience was apparently so psychologically wrenching that he is compelled to live in the woods with his early teen daughter, portrayed by Thomasin McKenzie.

There are some issues not explained that might have filled out the scenario, given the viewer a fuller perspective. Where is mom? What was it that turned Foster’s character Will so anti-social?

It is to writer/ director Debra Granik’s credit that the movie remains fulfilling and resonant without addressing those seemingly critical issues.

They get caught. People with good intentions try to get them to feel comfortable in society. Tom — McKenzie’s character — attempts to acclimate. Will is not able to. They move on.

How the father/ daughter dynamic plays out is lovely to watch, so beautifully is it rendered.

For more, listen up:

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“American Animals”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 13th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

“So, yo, dude, I was just in the library as part of orientation and they got these books — Audubon, Darwin — worth millions. Only one old lady guards them.”

“Yeah, bro. Hey, let’s just steal ’em. Easy pickins.”

That’s not exactly the conversation between the two prime movers of the planned heist in the early 2000s at the Transylvania University library. But it gives you an idea of how ill thought out this cockamamie scam was from the get go.

“American Animals” is a dramatization of the whole deal, from germination to botched heist attempt to post prison interviews. Which Q & As are with the real four guys while actors play out the scenario in the failed scam.

For more perspective, listen up:

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“First Reformed”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 6th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I saw this film several weeks back when it first opened in my town. Having determined it would be of little interest, that it would not attract enough audience to stay long, I opted not to review it.

Well, there’s also the perspective that I found it terminally ascetic.

But I noticed earlier this week, when checking the listings, that it was still playing. Obviously I was wrong, there have been enough popcorn-munching filmgoers who are interested to keep it around.

So I decided to review it, even after realizing the morning of this post, that it was no longer playing in town. But, in these Times o’ Google, I’m sure it’s streaming somewhere.

Ethan Hawke is suitably troubled as the Reverend of the church. Amanda Seyfried is his congregant. Cedric the Entertainer — yes, THE Cedric the Entertainer — plays it straight as the leader of the megachurch that supports Hawke’s failing congregation.

For a more in depth take, listen below:

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— c d kaplan


“Body Heat”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 29th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Adjusting plans is not an easy thing for me. Especially when I’m accountable to my audience — such as it is — for a weekly film review.

But I’ve adapted for this moment, and just a few sessions of therapy should help me recalibrate my harmony with the universe.

I intended to see and review “Uncle Drew.” I mean really a silly hoops fable based on a Pepsi commercial, gotta see how it works, right? But the theater was sold out at the only showing that fit my schedule.

So, I shall spend these moments together with you, sharing why Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 film noir “Body Heat” is my favorite film.

I actually streamed it last week, first watch in decades, and it held up.

So, if you haven’t seen it, or have but don’t remember much, listen below and learn why it’s worthy of your time.

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“Ocean’s 8”: Film Review & Podcast

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

Even though they tend to follow a well set plotline, I cherish the well done caper flick.

So, even though I’d seen the trailer for this female-centric reboot of the Ocean’s franchise so many times it felt this morning when it had actually arrived like I’d already seen the flick, I checked it out.

It met all the requirements of the genre, and did so in a glossy, summertime popcorn movie sort of way.

Which was just all right with me.

Of all the stars — Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna and  Awkwafina — it was Ms. Hathaway as a too full of herself famous person who came with the most game. Though all were fine.

Spoiler alert: The ladies get away with the jewels.

Imagine our surprise.

The fun is in the getting there.

For more, listen up:

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“Deadpool 2”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: May 25th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Is there any need for one of my lengthy and verbose written contemplations of this comic book super hero “satire”?

Uh, no, not really.

Should I at least give you a clue, some evidence perhaps, whether it is as good as, less than or better than the original?

Uh, no, not really.

I’ll leave the parsing to the those who idled away too much of their misspent youth at the Great Escape.

I found this moderately entertaining, but would have preferred more satire and less boilerplate comic book violence cinema stuff.

(And, you might wonder if I noticed that the poster I downloaded for the visual here is in a foreign tongue? Yes, I did, but, uh, so what.)

Here’s more:

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“Disobedience”: Film Review & Podcast

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

At a turning point in the film, “Disobedience,” there is a long, telling tracking shot of Ronit (Rachel Weisz), who has returned to London from NYC for her father the rabbi’s funeral, and childhood friend Esti (Rachel McAdams) walking down the street, getting reconnected.

Ronit has escaped or been pushed away from the orthodox Jewish community in which she grew up, and she wears no wig, as social mores would dictate for the women there. She nonchalantly, at a key moment in the dialog, combs her fingers through her hair.

It is oh so subtly evocative.

There are many such touches in this elegiac, somber contemplation.

We have just learned that Ronit and Esti were lovers, and that Esti is married to the third member of their childhood trio, Dovid, (Alessandro Nivola).

This is mature cinema, the contemplation of passion and emotion in an insulated community.

It’s excellently played. And, as with all good films, all good art really, asks way more questions than it answers.

For more detail and discussion of “Disobedience,” listen below:

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“Chappaquiddick”: A Film Review

Posted: May 14th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema | No Comments »

Those who were around and of age, members of my generation, the War Baby Generation, at least many of us, remain fascinated with the phenomenon that was the Kennedy’s, such a unique political force it became.

JFK was the first media age superstar president. His assassination in November ’63 is our “I remember exactly where I was” moment, more so even than 9/11.

Then there was brother Bobby’s ascension. And his assassination.

Then came the rise of last brother standing Teddy, insecure but haughty, a reluctant scion of the family. The machine was in place for him to seek the White House.

Then came Chappaquiddick. It’s the island off Martha’s Vineyard, where Kennedy, drunk, drove a car off a bridge after leaving a summertime celebration, killing the only passenger, a young woman, a former aide of brother Bobby’s, Mary Jo Kopechne. Read the rest of this entry »


“Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: May 11th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I was really bummed when I missed this true story of a late in life romance of 50s film noir femme fatale Gloria Grahame and Peter Turner, an actor 30 years younger than her. It was gone from the theater in a blink of the eye in my town.

I wanted to see it, because, for one, it stars Annette Bening, who is always great.

And, because it’s a movie about movies, at least peripherally. And movie stars.

And it came well reviewed.

Well, I caught up with it last evening on the Amazon, and am glad I did.

It’s simply a well made, lushly shot, superbly acted tale that compels.

For more info, listen up:

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“Love After Love”: A Film Review

Posted: May 10th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema | 1 Comment »

It’s a coy beginning to Russell Harbaugh’s “Love After Love.”

Perched in a window alcove, coffee cup in hand, brow furrowed, yet posed like a Land’s End advert, is Suzanne, an ever radiant Andie McDowell.

She is in conversation with Nicholas, Chris O’Dowd.

The subject is happiness. The nature of their relationship is uncertain.

He mumbles something like, sure I’m happy but we’ve just had this tiff. She projects concern and parries.

The immediate wonder is the nature of their connection?

Which we find out as the scene ends. Read the rest of this entry »