“Mel Brooks Make A Noise”: Film Review Podcasst

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

It was one of those days that come all too often in these cockamamie times.

I needed something familiar, comfortable, funny and sweet, to take me away from the present.

To see the film I was thinking of, I would have had to subscribe to yet another streaming service. And, I mean, enough is enough, right?

So, surfing about Amazon Prime I came upon this delightful documentary about one of America’s great all-time funnymen.

Among his many other successes — including how he won Anne Bancroft’s heart from the get go — Mel Brooks created two of, oh, the ten funniest films ever. Both of which were released in the same calendar year, 1974.

Plus, it’s not like “Blazing Saddles” and the even more brilliant “Young Frankenstein” were his only noteworthy accomplishments.

One of the reasons I cherish this documentary so much is that we learn more about Brooks as a human being. How intelligent and empowering to women he has been.

Then there’s all the great insider stories. Like his relationship with Alfred Hitchcock.

For more info, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Bureau”: Review & Podcast

Posted: July 20th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 2 Comments »

OK, I’ll lay it out for you right from the get go.

If you are familiar with my tastes and work here, you know that I consider David Simon’s “The Wire” to be the best drama, any medium, ever crafted in the English language.

Hyperbole? Of course. But I believe it to be true.

I’ve never come close to accepting any successor as worthy of mention in the same breath.

Until now.

I’ve fallen prey to the elegant craft and intrigue of the French series, “The Bureau,” streaming at Sundance Now.

It’s centered around the people and work of the DGSE, the French equivalent of the CIA.

I’m totally addicted, and have consumed the first fifteen episodes of the five season series in the last three days.

For a more thorough explanation why “The Bureau: has my highest recommendation, listen to the podcast below:

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— c d kaplan


By filling out the simple form at bottom of page, you can receive all my reviews in your email inbox. For free.

“Palm Springs”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 13th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I’m certainly among the punditocracy who have oft wondered, more than a might dismissively, why don’t they make romantic comedies like they used to?

You know, where have you gone Annie Hall, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you?

So, when a flick comes along where the would be couple actually have some chemistry, where there’s even a smidge of uniqueness how the tale is told, when it’s, oh my heavens, funny . . . well, I fall prey to its charms.

As well we all should.

And it’s not like we don’t need some light fluff in these times.

All of which is to say, as if you couldn’t guess, that I really enjoyed this rom com, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Miloti, with supporting help from J.K. Simmons.

There’s a big plotline hook that will be familiar, but this sweet film works nonetheless.

So, hopefully I’ve lured you in without saying much at all about the movie. Listen to the podcast below to find out more.

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— c d  kaplan

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“Eurovision Song Contest – The Story of Fire Saga”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 6th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: The Story of Fire Saga – Will Ferrell as Lars Erickssong, Rachel McAdams as Sigrit Ericksdottir. Credit Elizabeth Viggiano/NETFLIX © 2020

What the world needs now is bit more — a lot more, frankly — silliness.

Who better to turn to than Will Ferrell?

That’s right, nobody.

Here he is Lars, and along with lifetime friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), they are Fire Saga, a musical duo.

Though not that good, they make it from their small Icelandic fishing village to the finals of Europe’s biggest musical event.

I won’t spoil the plot, such as it is, by telling you how.

While not primo Ferrell, this grin of a Netflix flick arrives when a somewhat humorous diversion has become a necessity in these cockamamie times.

For more specifics, do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast below:

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— c d kaplan

You can now receive all my posts here directly in your email inbox. It’s free to subscribe. Just fill out the simple form below. 

“Irresistible”: Film Review Podcast

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

Steve Carell. Rose Byrne. Chris Cooper.

Good actors all, attempting to work their craft here. Check.

Political operative tries to regain some reputation after a setback, set as a comedy in heartland America.

Alright, a reasonable premise. Check.

Jon Stewart writing and directing.

Well, that dude’s got some cred. Check.

So, yeah, bring it.

So, what happened?

For that you’ll have click on the link below, and listen.

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“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

You can subscribe for free, and receive all my posts directly into your email inbox. Just fill out the simple form below.

“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


You can now subscribe for FREE and get all my posts here, delivered directly to your email in box. Just fill out the simple form below.