“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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“Louisville Jewish Film Festival”: Podcast Preview

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

The 2020 Louisville Jewish Film Festival opens this Saturday, February 8, with a showing of the documentary, “Fiddler on the Roof: A Miracle of Miracles.”

It runs through the beginning of March at various venues.

The offerings include the usual potpourri of documentaries, dramas and comedies. Many showings will be accompanied by lectures and discussions.

There’s a nifty satire, playing Saturday, February 29, at the Village 8 Theatres, titled “Tel Aviv on Fire.”

The screenplay was written by native Louisvillian, later professor of film at Columbia University, Daniel Kleinman, who will be in attendance and speaking at the showing.

For a complete list of the films and venues and schedule and ticket info, click here.

For more info, and a preview of a fascinating documentary about Carl Laemmle, on the pioneers of the industry in America, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Gentlemen”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 28th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Before Guy Ritchie went off and married Madonna, then unmarried her, before he ascended to the A List of directors, which allowed him to sit in the chair for the Sherlock Holmes remake abominations, before all that, he jumped on the scene with some clever Brit crime capers.

One was “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels,” which was pretty good.

The other was the funny and engaging “Snatch,” a masterpiece of the genre, which I simply adore.

Well, he’s returned to the scene of the crime, literally and figuratively, with his current release, “The Gentlemen.”

It tells the tall tale of a bunch of too glib scoundrels, attempting to outdo each other to take over a huge pot growing and distribution operation.

For more details, and an assessment of “The Gentlemen,” listen to the podcast below:

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“Little Women”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 19th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Greta Gerwig’s take on the Louisa May Alcott classic is refreshing.

And fresh. Or, so I’m told.

I’ve never read the book. I cannot recall seeing any of the six or so cinematic renditions.

So, though I knew the name Jo Marsh, and the standing of the iconic character among the females of the populace, the film was essentially new to me. Thus, not having seen Winona Ryder’s or June Allison’s take, Saoirse Ronan’s energetic portrayal is the one that resonates.

Gerwig’s creation is presented in a non-linear fashion, which I thought worked remarkably well.

I really enjoyed this movie.

For more information, listen to the podcast below:

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“1917”: Film Review Podcast

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

Of course, a well crafted film about two young soldiers sent on an impossible mission during WWI is going to elicit emotions.

Sam Mendes award-nominated “1917” certainly does that.

Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay as the earnest but fearful duo sent off by Command on the perilous mission are marvelous.

Especially MacKay, whose participation is kind of an afterthought. His is a marvelous 1917 face.

But the movie is filmed as a one shot, as if there were no edits. Which is frankly a bit of trickeration.

That aspect is too ever present during the run time, is a bit showy if you ask me, and somewhat distracts and detracts from the movie.

Though the movie remains nonetheless an emotionally impactful cinema experience.

For more, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Two Popes”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 9th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It is very rare, very very rare, when a Pope resigns.

But that’s what Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) did, which allowed for the election of his successor, the current Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce).

The former was a solitary man, very conservative, resistant to change in the church.

The latter, just the opposite, a real reformer and man of the people. Not to mention a huge futbol fan.

This incredibly well acted and fascinating film purports to tell the story of the relationship of the two.

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

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“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:

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“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:

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“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:

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