“Okja”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 25th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Given just how fraught with peril are these peculiar and scary times, I was in need of something soft and cuddly.

So, as I’ve been meaning to do for a long while, I got around to watching Bong Joon Ho’s acclaimed 2017 release about a young girl and her pet pig, “Okja.”

What I wasn’t expecting was a more complicated story about corporate greed, and a do gooder animal rights organization, willing to do anything to achieve their ends.

Nor some seriously disagreeable characters, portrayed by Tilda Swinton (x2, she plays twins) and Paul Dano.

In many ways, it’s a fascinating film, incredibly well crafted. But the writer/director, as is his wont, went off in several directions, which might have worked better in other contexts.

For more specifics, listen to my podcast below:

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— c d kaplan

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“Da 5 Bloods”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 13th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Spike Lee’s movies have evolved into event releases, even though his stridency about race relations in America turns off as many moviegoers as it does those who appreciate his perspective.

If his latest, “Da 5 Bloods,” released Friday on Netflix, is not the the definitive film for our plate-shifting times, it is most certainly redolent of our country’s culture in this tumultuous era.

Is it just about four fellows who served together in Nam, returning decades later for the bones of their leader and the possibility of a fortune in gold?

Of course not.

Among other things, it features a career-defining performance by Delroy Lindo.

Along with a soundtrack by Terrence Blanchard, and more important, the insistence of Marvin Gaye’s seminal album, “What’s Going On,” the latter of which informs the entire movie.

But there’s oh so much more, which you can hear about when listening to the podcast below.

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— c d kaplan


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“The Vast of Night”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 3rd, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 2 Comments »

I am at an age so advanced I grew up with 50s Sci Fi flicks.

Mostly B quality. Black and white. A knowing scientist, often in a relationship with the woman who discovers something weird going on in the outskirts of the small town. Always a small town. Invasion by aliens in flying saucers. Theremin soundtrack.

“In the Vast of Night,” at Amazon Prime, Andrew Patterson’s dazzling directorial debut takes that premise and makes something ab fab. Sophisticated, but respectful of the inherent fun of the genre.

When I read about this flick, I figured I’d enjoy it.

Little did I know how compelling and well-crafted it would be.

This is my favorite movie of the year.

And, I explicitly set forth why. But to learn that, you will need to listen to the boffo podcast below:

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— c d kaplan

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“Umbrellas of Cherbourg”: Cinema Rewind

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

There are any number of aspects you might remember, if you viewed Jacques Demy’s iconic confection of a musical, “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” when it arrived in America in the mid 60s.

That you saw it in what we used to call art houses. In my town, that would have been the Crescent Theater, where my first impression when attending a flick there while in high school was they sold coffee in the lobby.

How sophisticated, thought I.

Unless I saw it when off to college in a small Virginia town, where the State Theater showed foreign flicks, then still relatively new to our shores, and the Lyric, more mainstream fare.

Or, you might recall the sumptuous score of Michel Legrand, whose IMDb listing of credits includes an astounding 217 films. You’ve heard the theme song, “I Will Wait For You,” many times through the decades, if only from the Muzak in a department store.

Let’s face it, only Hank Mancini’s “Moon River,” might be more famous and resonant, when it comes to string-laden romanticism in the movie house.

Or, you might recall, and this is probably true for most, how beautiful the stars were. Read the rest of this entry »

“Sorry We Missed You”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: May 25th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It is a story as old as the existence of society.

There are always those who struggle to make it financially.

Thus it is to the credit of director Ken Loach, that “Sorry We Missed You” presents a tale that might be well worn, in a manner that rivets.

Earnest hardworking family. Hubby takes a gig economy job, delivering parcels. But needs to buy a truck. So they sell his bride’s car, which she had been using to get around from patient to patient in her job as an in home caregiver.

Their relationship suffers. As does their relationship with their teenage son, who begins acting out. And with their adolescent daughter, who bears the weight of the whole sad situation.

They can’t seem to get over the hump.

This is not an easy movie.

But the tale is told with craft, and significantly more subtlety than one might imagine.

For more perspective, and where to stream one of the best new films of the year, listen to this podcast:

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— c d kaplan

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“What’s Up, Doc?”: Cinema Rewind

Posted: May 17th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema | No Comments »

Another in a series of short reviews, in which I go back and watch a movie again, then post a reconsideration. 

OK, so, this time around, that’s a lie. I start all posts of this series with something like that, sort of as a ploy so you might explore other entries on my site.

Truth here is I never before viewed the Peter Bogdanovitch-directed follow up to heralded “The Last Picture Show.”

I was directed to this comedy by a feature in the New York Times, where critics Manohlo Dargis and A.O. Scott suggest a film to watch over the weekend, then solicit comments in the NYT Movie section.

Because this film is meant to induce laughter, and nothing calls for some humor like our current situation, I bit. I knew enough about the Barbra Streisand/ Ryan O’Neal flick to know going in it’s silly.

Silly can be good.

And silliness is the overriding, perhaps overwhelming character trait of this caper/ love story set in San Francisco. Buck Henry wrote it, and anybody familiar with his resumé knows he can get to the absurd fairly easily. And Bogdanovich, long an aficionado of the history of movies, longed to recreated a Screwball comedy. Read the rest of this entry »

“Have a Good Trip Adventures in Psychelics”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: May 15th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

This new Netflix documentary is just odd to me.

Not that I’m not interested in hearing the stories famous entertainers might and do share about their experiences while tripping.

Because, as I discuss in the podcast below — which you should absolutely listen to — I, myself, am a man of experience, and thus could compare tales.

It’s simply that I’m not sure what the end game is here.

Which is to opine that this irreverent bit of cinema, entertaining as it might be to some, including me, lacks focus.

Not that it really matters, but I wonder what was the filmmaker’s purpose?

Anyhow, like I said, you can get a significantly better sense of it all, and some of my own forays into rainbows and tracers, by listening to the podcast below.

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— c d kaplan


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“Winter Kills”: Cinema Rewind

Posted: May 13th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema | No Comments »

This is another in a series, in which I review films from the past, recently rewatched. 

I was frankly suspicious of “Winter Kills” from the get go.

Come on, a dark comedy, fictionalizing the conspiracy angles of the Kennedy assassination, which happened a decade and a half before this movie’s release in the late 70s.

An interesting premise on first blush. But . . .

Lots of prerelease buzz. Seemingly too much.

Then again, it was based on a book by Richard Condon, who had written the best conspiracy scenario ever put on celluloid, “The Manchurian Candidate.”

That the endeavor had money problems during its filming, and rumors of the mob’s involvement in underwriting the cost, added to the sordid allure. And skepticism.

Always engaging everyguy Jeff Bridges as the younger brother of the slain president. John Huston as the family patriarch.

Bridges’ character hears a dying man’s claim that he was the second shooter of his brother, the deceased president. So, Huston sends Bridges out to track down who was behind the assassination plot. Turns out to be a wild goose chase, on psychedelics.

Lots of interactions with wacky ne’er do wells. Lots of deaths, foreshadowed by a woman and child, riding by on a bicycle. (How so very ’70s.)

There’s a whole passel of big names in small, supporting, cameo roles, including stalwarts like Richard Boone, and Elizabeth Taylor (uncredited).

It just seemed like, I don’t know, too much to ask of a movie, when the Kennedy assassination was still reasonably fresh.

And it was, too much to ask that is.

In 1979.

And, even more the other night, when I started rewatching it, but, weary, turning it off before completion. And the next morning, when, with time on my hands, I decided to go ahead and view the last half hour. Read the rest of this entry »

“Young Adult”: Cinema Rewind

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

This is the first in a series, called, duh, Cinema Rewind, of undetermined duration, in which I discuss movies from the past that I’ve just taken a second look at. 

There is something about the end of high school that’s the great dividing point in many peoples lives.

What has been prescribed for us through age 18 has now ended.

How does the ark of life turn from there?

It’s a fascinating subject to me, and there have been any number of films through the decades that have examined it.

It is the underlying premise of “Young Adult,” in which Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), unhappy with her alcoholic life as a ghost writer in Minneapolis, decides what she needs to do is go back to her small Minnesota town, and win back her HS BF Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).

Even though he is married, happily. And he and his bride have just had a baby.

There’s more about the totality of the plot in the podcast below.

I want to make special mention here of a most poignant scene late in the film, one of many, when Mavis is having coffee with Sandra (Collette Wolfe), the sister of Matt (Patton Oswalt), a high schooler who meant nothing to Mavis when she was Queen of the Hop, but with whom she’s just spent the night, and you know. Read the rest of this entry »

“Natalie Wood – What Remains Behind”: Film Review/Podcast

Posted: May 10th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

It was the time of Marilyn. Monroe, if you need to be spoon fed.

But the Hollywood star who always got to me during my teenage years was Natalie Wood.

Not only was she a really fine actor, who gave the world any number of strong, iconic cinematic performances.

But she was a very smart, most interesting person.

And, as is underscored in the new HBO documentary, “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind,” she was a doting mother, who was willing to set career aside when need be to be there for her children.

This doc, as one figured it would, gets around to her untimely demise, her drowning off Catalina Island. Enough with that already.

But it also sets out that she should be remembered for much more than that.

For further details and discussion of the recommended documentary, listen to the podcast below.

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— c d kaplan

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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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