Diversion Tip: NYT Short Film of the Day

Posted: May 7th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Ruminations | No Comments »

Who among us, in these oh so strange and perilous times, isn’t looking for some little way to escape?

If only for a moment or two.

I mean really, how much hard news can a person take?

If you’re looking for live sports, there’s Korean baseball, played in front of empty stands, but the fascination grows old quickly.

Netflix. Prime. Hulu. Criterion.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But there come times during the day when you just want a quick shot, a respite from real life concerns, a mask free interlude, and move on.

So here’s one I discovered that fills that bill, the New York Times Short Film of the Day.

 * * * * *

Some examples.

Today’s (Thursday 5/07) is a clever Oscar nominated confection that’s less than two minutes long.

Yesterday’s was a smile-inducing bit of shtick from mid 20th C.

A couple more for your viewing pleasure: Read the rest of this entry »


“Unorthodox”: Film Review Podcast

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

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There’s a certain fascination with strict cultures around the globe, where stringent ways of living have been passed down by the elders through the centuries in order that a homogeneous society will be maintained.

Arranged marriages.

An abundance of rituals.

In modern times, it often chafes at the younger members born into the culture in a freer world.

This is a four part Netflix series based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, who felt it necessary to escape a Hasidic community in Brooklyn.

Some liberties are taken in the series, but it remains a fascinating and compelling watch.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

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“Bad Education”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: April 29th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

It must be acknowledged that a tale of high school administrators embezzling money from a school system is not the most compelling or sexiest of topics.

To fashion an engaging movie from such a scenario takes serious craft.

Which director Cody Finley and writer Mike Makowsky have accomplished in the HBO Original, “Bad Education.”

Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney excellently portray the real life Frank Tassone and Pam Gluckin. Who a few decades ago were beloved by a Long Island school system, at the same time they were stealing millions of dollars from the system’s coffers.

They were outed by the high school newspaper.

“Bad Education” lays out the whole situation in an appealing way. Really good acting make that happen.

For more on this film, listen to the podcast below:

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“Crip Camp”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: April 6th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

As I’ve mentioned before, I cherish the moments when a film I’ve never heard of shows up out of the blue and steals my heart.

(Thank you, Jeff and Susan, my film buff friends, for the recommendation.)

Such is the situation with “Crip Camp,” an endearing documentary about how a summer camp in the Catskills in the early 70s just for kids with handicaps was the genesis of the disability civil rights movement.

But first, the camp allowed these amazing humans to feel their humanity and find some dignity.

Lots of sweet black and white footage from those camp days here. Followed by a chronicle how those from that experience were front and center, forcing Congress and the government to pass and then enforce empowering, long time coming, long overdue legislation.

For more, about this splendid bit of cinema, including where you can watch –It has a 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating — listen to the podcast below:

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“SXSW Short Films”: Film Review Podcast

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

Surfing about for something to read or watch or listen to on my laptop while dining last night, I came across a site that’s posted a bunch of short film entries to that portion of SXSW.

I’ve watched three so far, and each in its own way is pretty spectacular. I shall delve further.

One is a story that completely touches the dynamics of twentysomething relationships and mother/ daughter relationships in eight minutes.

Another is a sweet three minute animated tale about Christmas longing. It won the Grand Prize even though the festival, like everything else, was cancelled.

And perhaps the most artistic, creative documentary I’ve ever seen. An eleven minute telling of the crusade that saved a thousand broken musical instruments in the Philly school system, called “Broken Orchestra.” Relatively dry topic, incredible filmmaking.

For further details where to find these gems, listen to the podcast below:

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“A Black and White Night”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: March 27th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | No Comments »

So, among the blessings in these strange and perilous times are the many musical events that can be watched on the interweb.

Just last night, I watched an entire concert of my favorite group, Tedeschi Trucks Band, from last fall at the Beacon Theater. They were smokin’ hot, and I actually was up and dancing during some of the tunes.

(Feel free to close your eyes at that the virtual visual, but it’s a moment to savor these days when we can be carefree.)

So, I thought of a concert film you might not know about.

“A Black and White Night” is a Roy Orbison made for TV gig, filmed in late ’87, and first shown the following January.

It is evocatively shot in, duh, high contrast black and white, adding to the panache.

His back up band is arguably as star studded a contingent as there’s ever been. I name names in the podcast below.

Orbison’s an icon from the first wave of rock & roll, but his voice was still in fine fettle decades later.

It’s available online, but you’re going to have to listen to the podcast to find out where. (See what I’m doing here, nodding like the woman in the H&R Block advert to my podcast link below.)

For more details, listen, you know, down below. It’s a great set of live music from one of the greats.

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“The In-Laws” (1979): Film Review Podcast

Posted: March 18th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 2 Comments »

So, in these weird times, I feel compelled to hip you to a funny movie.

It’s one of my favorite comedies of all time.

The original 1979 version of “The In Laws.” (Do not fall prey to the horrible remake.)

Vince Ricardo (Peter Falk) is a renegade CIA op, whose son is marrying the daughter of Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin).

Ricardo induces Kornpett to help him with an errand in the days before the wedding. They end up in front of a firing squad in a banana republic, whose dictator, General Garcia, is played by Richard Libertini in a film stealing cameo.

The film is actually showing this Friday, March 20, on a cable/ satellite channel near you. And can also be streamed for a couple bucks at Amazon Prime.

For more details, and more info about the flick, listen to the podcast below:

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“Hoop Dreams”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: March 12th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Sports | No Comments »

These are troubled times, kids, so before I start, let me add my voice to those who advise to take all precautions, and to follow the advice of medical pros who know what they’re talking about.

I know a lot of folks, like me, will be hunkering in the ol’ hacienda more than usual.

And, for those of us who love college basketball, we won’t be able to watch any as we’d normally be doing this time of year, because it’s all been called off, justifiably, in the name of national health and safety.

So, I recommend to my followers, as I’ve done before, the absolute best film ever made about basketball.

The filmmakers of “Hoop Dreams” followed a couple Chicago prep phenoms over almost 8 years, edited down hundreds of hours of footage and fashioned this incisive and intimate portrait of their lives and fortunes.

It’s available at Amazon Prime and maybe elsewhere.

For more on the film, listen to my podcast below:

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“Once Were Brothers”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: March 3rd, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | No Comments »

Saugerties, NY: 1968. The Band behind Big Pink‚ Easter Sunday, West Saugerties. Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm. ©Elliott Landy / The Image Works

I was chatting up some guy I didn’t know in the hallway before the beginning of the reunion concert I saw with Dylan and The Band in Bloomington in ’74.

The guy was talking about how “Dylan was OK,” but he was really there to see The Band.

I, of course, ever wise, and full with my own opinionation, dismissed his utterance as foolishness.

Upon further contemplation through the decades, I, like many, have come to understand the transcendence of The Band’s music and place within the pantheon of rock & roll.

Of course, they’re not Dylan. Then again, they’re a cut above and more significant than just about everybody else in the rock era.

“Once Were Brothers” is a Robbie Robertson-centric documentary about the group’s origins and demise. Lots of great footage. Some interesting interviews, especially with Ronnie Hawkins.

If you care about rock & roll, it is to be seen.

For more, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Assistant”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: February 26th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

So, “The Assistant” arrived in town the same week that in a NY courtroom, Harvey Weinstein received the first of many guilty verdicts to come, one for rape.

Coincidence? I don’t know. But it’s a lede.

This film centers on a single workday of a young college grad, breaking into the entertainment business as the gofer/secretary of a mogul, whom she believes is a sexual predator.

We never see the guy, but hear him, and read a few of his emails.

This austere but very astute movie features Julia Garner as the assistant of the title. Her acting here is exemplary, underscored by her ability to project emotions and thoughts just by the looks on her face.

Besides the sexual harassment element, presented with power but subtlety, this also serves as commentary on office politics.

Kitty Green wrote and directed a searing yet understated contemplation of these most contemporary cultural issues.

For more insight into the movie, listen the podcast below. (Caveat: It was inadvertently recorded at a low level. You might need to turn up your volume.):

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“American Factory”: Film Review Podcast

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

A General Motors factory closes in Dayton, Ohio, putting many out of work.

The facility is purchased by a Chinese auto glass manufacturing company, and reopens under that new leadership. Many of the former GM workers are rehired.

This compelling documentary examines the culture clash, both personal and industrial.

Beautifully shot, and with almost unfathomable access to the people involved and situation, this is fascinating contemplation.

For more on the movie, listen to the podcast below:

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“Miss Americana”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: February 7th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Oh my, how we do crave knowing about the private lives of the stars who float our boat, what they’re really — I mean, really — like?

Music faves. Sports stars. Hollywoodland elite.

And, at least among a certain generation, there’s no bigger pop star than Taylor Swift.

The singer hit the scene — hugely — at a tender age. Platinum albums. Awards. Social media icon. Boyfriend issues.

But, what’s she really like?

The Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana,” is actually a way more intimate look into Swift’s private life than one might expect.

Her song writing methods. Her interaction with fans. Her insecurities.

Many, though I doubt all, are laid bare.

For more information and my review of the doc, listen to the podcast below:

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