“Uncut Gems”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 5th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Adam Sandler is truly charismatic as a frankly disagreeable character in the Safdie brothers film, “Uncut Gems.”

Howard Ratner is a NYC jeweler, who is also a compulsive gambler, and therefore never quite even with all the people he owes big money to.

His wife in the burbs is divorcing him. Because of the mistress he keeps in a fancy apartment in the city.

He has a raw chunk of opal he thinks is worth a million that he is going to sell at auction, and then pay everybody off.

At least that’s his plan.

But matters never seem to pan out for him.

To learn more about this incredibly energetic movie, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

“Dolemite is My Name”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: December 29th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Eddie Murphy is somewhat of an icon.

Yet it’s been years, frankly, since he’s been front and center and on the nation’s lips.

Which he was recently after a triumphant return to SNL, as a guest host. He trotted out many of his favorite characters from his days on the show.

Well, he’s also returned to the screen, playing another icon from days gone by.

That would be Rudy Ray Moore, who aspired to stardom while working in a record a shop in the 70s. His comedy records struck a nerve in African American neighborhoods across the country. Which success he turned into a movie franchise in the era of Blaxploitation.

Netflix’s “Dolemite is My Name” is Murphy as Moore as Dolemite, and the story of his ascendence to fame and fortune.

This is a generally blemish free telling of his rise.

But, with Murphy if full Murphy mode, it’s way entertaining.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

“Queen & Slim”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: December 18th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

First time feature director Melina Matsoukas “Queen & Slim” addresses the dilemma, can a film which deigns to center on the racial divide in America also be entertaining, engaging and mainstream?

The bottom line answer is yes.

Though there is a bit too much polemic in the final third.

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith play a couple who do not know each other out for dinner.

Their connection is fitful to non-existent.

As he is driving her home, they are stopped on a deserted street by an agitated policeman played by Sturgill Simpson. Because of the officer’s antagonism, the encounter spirals out of control, and he ends up accidentally dead.

The couple goes on the lam.

The film depicts their interactions with each other, and with those they meet along the way.

For more details and perspective, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

“Knives Out”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: December 8th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

So it all started, more or less, with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, a guy who could figure out whodunit from the color of a speck of soap on hallway carpet.

Then came Agatha Christie and her two investigators who could figure out. Bombastic Hercule Poirot. And elderly Mrs. Marple, played to the hilt by Margaret Rutherford in the British film series of the early 60s.

Now, in an homage to Christie, we have Benoit Blanc, played with delightful relish, and a horrid but oh so charming southern accent, by Daniel Craig.

A family patriarch is discovered with his throat slit, the morning after the family gathered at his manor for an 85th birthday party.

Suicide? Murder? Enter private detective Benoit Blanc to figure it all out.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

“The Irishman”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: December 1st, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Martin Scorcese’s heralded “The Irishman” finally made it to Netflix.

Which is where I watched it, because the film is thee hours and twenty minutes long. And I wasn’t about to even attempt sitting in a theater seat for that period of time.

What we have here is ground previously tilled by the main players.

Scorcese, the director. Joe Pesci as a mob boss. He’s delightfully understated. Robert DeNiro as the Irishman, Frank Sheeran. And Al Pacino, again chewing scenery as Teamsters Boss Jimmy Hoffa.

With Scorcese in the director’s chair, this is, of course, a master class in the art of filmmaking. Settings. Cinematography. Editing. Dialog. Acting, for the most part.

But, is the movie a masterpiece?

For the answer to that, listen to the podcast below, which like the film itself, is longer than usual.

Audio MP3

“Parasite”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: November 24th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Celebrated director Bong Joon-Ho’s latest “Parasite” is a lot of movie.

Which statement, truth be told, I uttered over and over to myself upon leaving the theater and walking to my car.

“That’s a lot of movie.”

Until I couldn’t help but laugh at myself.

It would not be fair to share many of the plot points of the film, especially the turn it takes near the end.

It is about class disparity and envy. At least on its face.

But the incredible creation, winner of the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is about much more.

For more observations and detail, but no spoilers, listen to the podcast below.

Audio MP3

“Ford v Ferrari”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: November 19th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Some films are easier to review than others.

This is one of those others.

Not because I didn’t enjoy my time with “Ford v. Ferrari,” because I did.

Not because it isn’t a well made, invigorating film, because it is.

Not because it’s not well acted, which it is, featuring Matt Damon and Christian Bale.

Because, well, I just wonder, even given all that, how many mainstream moviegoers are interested in a retelling of the story of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, as intriguing as it might be.

So, caveat emptor, this movie might really be for car enthusiasts only.

Listen to my podcast below. It may or may not help you decide.

 

Audio MP3

“The Laundromat”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: November 8th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Given how Hollywoodland works, it ever surprises me when a film such as “The Laundromat” gets made.

The movie is essentially about how billionaires and corporations, some legit, some not, hide money and assets by setting up shell companies, mostly in the Caribbean.

How is such a focus made palatable for the popcorn munching public?

Well, director Steven Soderbergh, working with a top shelf cast including Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, gives it a shot.

As an erstwhile comedy no less.

While the movie works occasionally, and is in parts truly funny, in the end it simply doesn’t coalesce. Despite the stellar talent on board. There’s an attempt to tell the tale through vignettes, which are only vaguely related to each other.

I didn’t hate the flick. Actually I found it mildly engaging.

I had a few chuckles, but in the end, didn’t understand the global financial market anymore than when I clicked start on Netflix.

For more details, listen to the podcast below.

Audio MP3

“Jojo Rabbit”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: November 3rd, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Taika Waititi’s offbeat film about a young boy in Germany in the waning days of the Third Reich has been getting a load of buzz.

The quirkiness of its politically incorrect premise — the boy’s imaginary confidant is the Fuhrer himself — has generated a curiosity.

This is a film I was really looking forward to seeing, and I caught it at its first showing in town.

This is a film I generally disliked, and found seriously wanting.

For more details and further observations, please listen to my podcasted review below:

Audio MP3

“The Lighthouse”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: October 30th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

The almost numbingly stark “The Lighthouse” answers the question, whether a dark, foreboding film with essentially two characters with issues who tend to a lighthouse on a desolate, otherwise uninhabited island, surrounded by roiling seas, whether such a movie in black & white on a square screen can be compelling?

(Miss Walston, my 9th grade English dominatrix, is spinning in her grave over that run on, undiagrammable sentence.)

Willem Dafoe is the lighthouse keeper in charge.

Robert Pattinson is his assistant.

They really don’t get along.

This is a grisly bit of cinema.

This is not for folks looking for popcorn entertainment.

For more specifics and my more in depth take on “The Lighthouse,” listen to the podcast below.

Unlike my usual shtick, it’s an actual serious review.

Audio MP3

“Zombieland Double Tap”: Review & Podcast

Posted: October 22nd, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

We critics try to be objective.

At least the ones who are serious about the craft. And, despite my penchant for shtick and snark, I have standards and parameters and endeavor to give those paying attention a legitimate take on a movie.

But, that said, there are still prejudices of one sort or another that, just due to human nature, color one’s perspective.

It happened for a most personal reason with this sequel ten years after the original gang survived and blasted every member of the Walking Dead who crossed their paths. While cracking jokes and giving each other considerable grief.

It was fun, if essentially mindless entertainment.

So too the redux, with all the gang back. Emma and Woody and Abigail and, sigh, Jesse.

Does Bill Murray make an appearance? I’ll never tell.

To find out what my personal connection to the film is, and how that colored my perspective as the lights dimmed in the theater, you will need to listen below:

Audio MP3

“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice”: Review & Podcast

Posted: October 10th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | 1 Comment »

Upon full contemplation, there really has never been anybody quite like Linda Ronstadt in the rock & roll era.

Her truly transcendent voice.

Her personality.

Her intelligence.

Her many worthy collaborations.

And, yes, her looks. (So sue me if it bothers you that I’ve mentioned that.)

She has been plagued with Parkinson’s which cut her career short, but which disease she confronts with admirable perspective.

It’s all set out in this entertaining documentary.

For more details about Ms. Ronstadt and this film, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3