“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.

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“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:

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“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:

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“Judy”: Film Review & Podcast

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

Playing a renowned figure on the screen is always dicey, because we the public know the person’s physical ticks, mannerisms, and at least their public personality.

Which is why, I suppose, when the actor gets it right, or close, they have a good chance to be in the hunt come award time.

Count Renée Zellweger in.

She is the ever beloved since childhood Judy Garland in “Judy.” The film is set in the last year of Garland’s life when decades of insecurity, lack of sleep, alcohol and pills have worn her down.

She’s off to London, where she remains a big star.

“Judy” is a sad film. Yet it’s compelling in that way we can’t take our eyes off our icons as they self destruct before our eyes.

For more details on the film and Zellweger’s performance, listen to the podcast below.

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“Filmworker”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: September 11th, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

As a long time, inveterate lover of the cinema, I not only cherish the finish products — when the silver screen can be magical — but also peeks behind the scenes.

Few are the auteurs who are as intriguing as Stanley Kubrick.

What we get in this informative documentary is not only a gander at the creation of his last three films. But also a look at the intriguing relationship he had with his Man Friday, Leon Vitale.

An English actor on the rise, he gave up his in front of the camera activities in the mid 70s, after appearing prominently in “Barry Lyndon.”

After which he became Kubrick’s loyal, frankly subservient, do-it-all Gofer.

This documentary lays the whole thing bare.

A must watch — Netflix, Amazon Prime — for film aficionados.

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“Blinded by the Light”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: August 22nd, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

I am a prisoner of rock & roll.

Many have been the moments in my life that music has kept me calm, from first hearing the Volumes “I Love You” in the mid 50s to this very day when listening to the Tedeschi Trucks Band while doing stuff around the condo.

Too often the savage beast inside has roared.

But the Allman Brothers Band or Marvin Gaye or Carlos Santana or Van Morrison or Arlene Smith have been there to quell the angst.

So, it figures I’d be a sucker for a flick based on a true story about a Pakistani youth in England in the 80s, whose life is turned around for the better when he’s turned on to Bruce Springsteen.

The movie “Blinded by the Light” is cloying, full with treacle and trite sentimentality.

But it works, because it tells a true tale: A song, an album, a symphony, or simply resonant lyrics to a catching melody line can change one’s life. For the better.

For more details on the film, listen below:

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“The Farewell”: Film Review & Podcast

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

One of the great possibilities of filmmaking and movie viewing is the opportunity to present and to observe cultures different from our own.

Which is one of the main positives of the engaging family dramedy, “The Farewell.”

The family matriarch, Nai Nai, still living in China, is diagnosed with cancer, with but months to live.

That country’s culture is such that that news is kept from her. Yet her family gathers for final moments with her. Some, living in America including Awkwafina’s Billie, travel to be with Nai Nai. Billie wishes to tell her the truth.

What we have here is a sweet, gently told tale of how a culture definitely different from our own deals with such situations.

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“Plus One”: Film Review & Podcast

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

I have never been shy about jumping on the bandwagon now and again, decrying the deplorable state these days of one of cinema’s most beloved genres, the romantic comedy.

Or so we “critics” would opine.

You know, where are Bogey and Bacall now that we really need them?

So, it is a distinct pleasure to share thoughts about a Rom Com well worth your time, available for streaming and viewing at Amazon Prime.

“Plus One” features a most likable couple, Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid, who actually, unlike many such films, have a real chemistry on screen.

They are BFFs, who eventually get together romantically, have a falling out, and get back together. Not that to reveal the generality of this formulaic plotline is a spoiler.

They are funny. Their interactions are rooted in real life scenarios. And it was a pleasant couple of hours hanging out with them.

For more specifics on the film, listen below:

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“Once Upon A Time . . . in Hollywood”: Film Review & Podcast

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

I’m a sucker for movies about movies.

I’m a sucker for movies about Hollywood and L A.

My life personally was changing in 1969, along with the shifting changes in culture itself. So I’m a sucker for films set at that time.

All of which is to say that I was predisposed to like Quentin Tarantino’s homage to that era and culture and place, “Once Upon A Time . . . in Hollywood.”

And truth is I love the movie even more than I felt I would.

It is a buddy movie, but more than that. It is the story of a budding Hollywood career cut short by the Manson horror, but more than that. It is a movie about the making of movies and the personalities involved, but more than that. It is a movie about the soundtrack of the time, but more than that.

It is a pop culturist’s dreamscape.

For significantly more details that underscore my unbridled appreciation of this truly entertaining movie, listen to the podcast below (Where I start out with a mistake of fact, saying Tarantino was in 9 year old in ’69. He was six, truth be told. Sorry):

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“Last Black Man in San Francisco” & “American Honey”: Film Review & Podcast

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

There is an essential thread binding all who live and breathe: the need for connection.

Whether it be to place. Or community.

Whether it is to a neighborhood, an edifice, or a group of people to feel comfortable with.

These two affecting films contemplate that quest.

In “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” Jimmie is drawn to, obsessed really, with the former home of his grandfather decades ago. Jimmie longs to reside there.

In “American Honey,” Star desires escape from her dreary existence, and wants connection with other humans. Which she seeks with a traveling group of contemporaries, selling magazines.

These two worthy films, as different as they may be, are lovely observations of likable people in need of a sense of connection.

For more, listen to the podcast below:

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“Rocketman”: Film Review & Podcast

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

It’s been a rock & roll summer at the cineplex.

That’s a good thing.

There’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the tale of Queen, “Yesterday,” the story about a guy who rises to the top singing the songs of the Beatles which the world has through glitch forgotten, and an upcoming flick about a Springsteen obsessive.

The best so far is “Rocketman,” the tale with many of the gory details, as well as a good number of the incredible now iconic songs, of the rise and perseverance of Elton John.

Who, by the by, executive produced this biopic. To his and the filmmakers’ credit, there are few punches pulled.

The self destruction is there.

So too the talent and grand successes of John the entertainer, and John the songwriter who crafted so many indelible tunes with lyricist Bernie Taupin.

For more insight, listen to the podcast below:

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“Yesterday”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: July 1st, 2019 | Filed under: Cinema, Music | No Comments »

Of course, the premise of the movie “Yesterday” is absurd.

There’s a momentary global electrical blackout, the main after effect of which appears to be that the entire history of The Beatles is erased.

Including the presence of their albums in the collection of Himesh Patel, a run of the mill singer/ songwriter, whose career has gone nowhere singing his own songs. He’s apparently the only person left on the planet who remembers the Fab Four.

So, he starts singing there tunes.

Odd? Why, yes, it is a unique premise.

But, by golly, despite a couple of moments I could have done without, I fell prey to the movie’s inherent charm. Patel is an endearing character. So too that of his long time bestie and manage, Lily James.

There are a couple of scenes that play with the underlying mythos of the Beatles and this situation that pulled me in.

For more insight on this most entertaining film listen to the podcast below:

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