“One Night in Miami”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 16th, 2021 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

So, it seems as if Malcolm X set up a meeting with NFL star Jim Brown, soul singing icon Sam Cooke, and then still Cassius Clay, on the night he became the heavyweight champ, defeating Sonny Liston.

We’re talking February ’64.

What isn’t known, because none of them talked about it, is what the fellows talked about?

Or, how the dynamic played out?

This Regina King-directed movie is based on a stage play, contemplating the situation by Kemp Powers, who also wrote the screenplay.

It is always dicey to attempt such constructions, given that it’s all conjecture.

But each of these famous fellows was at a turning point in their lives, so allowing that to inform the speculation is intriguing.

For more insight, listen to the podcast below:

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“Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President”

Posted: January 10th, 2021 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I’ve long cherished the tale of how my favorite band of forever — the Allman Brothers Band — helped save Jimmy Carter’s quest for the Oval Office.

He had just about run out of money during the primary season. So ABB held raising concerts to keep Carter’s bid afloat until he got more traction.

Well, it turns out that the 39th president was also a legit, diehard music buff.

And did what I’d do were I ever in his position. He had a whole bunch of concerts at the White House with performers he loved and admired.

Plus it turns out, he’s had lifelong close relationships with several iconic musicians.

It’s all set forth in this sweet and illuminating documentary.

Plus we learn that Carter may be even a more decent and caring president and ex-president than we thought we knew.

The movie’s been aired a few times on CNN, but I don’t know if any more are scheduled. But, for a few bucks, do yourself a favor and watch it at Amazon Prime.

For more insight, here’s the podcast:

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“Narrowsburg”: Film Review/ Podcast

Posted: January 5th, 2021 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

When you live in a bucolic hamlet of less than 500 in New York state, and a charming couple moves to town, promising to turn it into the “Sundance of the East,” what are you going to do?

We find out in this documentary, directed by Martha Shane, exactly what happened, when the citizens became smitten with charismatic Richard and Jocelyn Castellano’s vision.

Given that Richard had been in “Analyze This,” with Robert DeNiro and Billy Crystal, the townsfolk fell prey. With promises the burg would be on the cinematic map. With promises of possible stardom, after the Castellanos decided to make their own movie there.

Many in the town invested in the project, some considerably.

Problems ensued.

Shane’s intriguing documentary, available at Amazon Prime, is cautionary tale.

For more insight, listen to my podcast below:

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“I’m Your Woman” & “The Professor and the Madman”: Film Review/ Podcast

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

Rachel Brosnahan stars in I’M YOUR WOMAN
Photo: Wilson Webb/Amazon Studios

These movies are nothing alike.

Yet they do have a commonality, which is why I’m reviewing them together.

And I also figured, what the hey, give my listeners/ readers a twofer to end the year as a holiday gift.

Julia Hart’s “I’m Your Woman” stars Rachel Brosnahan as a housewife on the lam, when her outlaw hubby gets in a jam and puts her in peril.

“The Professor and the Madman” is essentially a true story, set in the late 19th C, about the development of the Oxford English Dictionary, and two fellows who were major contributors. They’re played by Mel Gibson and Sean Penn.

What the movies have in common — other than that I’ve viewed them in the last few days — are great setups which intrigued me.

For much more, listen to my podcast below:

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“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: December 20th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Who among us is truly entrenched in the holiday spirit?

There’s something about the horrid year 2020 that has, for most of us, drained out the joy of the season.

So, it is with a great deal of pleasure, I recommend “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” available for streaming on Netflix.

I have finished watching the movie within an hour of writing out my script and recording it and posting this into the cybergalaxy.

So has it filled my heart with a true sense of the season as we know it, and pray it will be again.

For more about the movie, sure to become a Christmas Classic, listen to my podcast below:


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“The Personal History of David Copperfield”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: December 11th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There have been many takes on Charles Dickens’ favorite and most autobiographical novel, known by the shorthand, “David Copperfield.”

But none are quite as sprightly, irreverent and delightful as Armando Iannucci’s current version, now available on Amazon Prime.

As I mention in the podcast below, it’ll cost you a a few farthings, but is well worth it.

Dev Patel is a charmer as Copperfield, in a marvelous cast that includes Hugh Laurie as Mr. Dick, Tilda Swinton as Betsey Trotwood, and Ben Whishaw as the splendidly named embezzler Uriah Heep.

The truth is, while I’ve read several of Dickens’ tomes — I did take high school English after all — I have never read “The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, and Observation of David Copperfield, The Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on any Account).

So the whole tale was new to me.

Yet, it is without compunction I advise you should find this version suitably fresh. And refreshing.

For more insight, listen to my podcast below:

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“Mank”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: December 7th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

As a cinephile of the highest order, I love movies about the movies.

Love movies about Hollywoodland.

Love black and white movies, especially ones in high definition, with care for the geometry of the screen.

Which means I was predisposed to love “Mank,” David Fincher’s homage to Herman Mankiewicz’s process of the writing of “Citizen Kane.”

Mank had spent years hobnobbing at San Simeon with William Randolph Hearst his lover, Marion Davies. They are the subjects of “Kane,” considered by many to be the best film ever made.

Gary Oldman plays Mank. Amanda Seyfried is marvelous as Davies. Charles Dance portrays Hearst.

The movie is available for streaming on Netflix.

For more insight, and my opinion of the movie, listen to my podcast below:

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“Belushi”: Film Review/Podcast

Posted: November 27th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

If you were around back in the day, you know of John Belushi.

He was comic genius who blasted through the TV screen in the 70s, as part of the original cast of SNL.

Then he created the iconic Blutarsky in “Animal House.”

Then he and bestie Dan Aykroyd formed the Blues Brothers, which had the top selling album n the country.

Meanwhile Belushi was doing himself in with drugs and alcohol.

For his whole story, including never before heard interviews, you can watch the documentary at Showtime On Demand.

For more about the film, listen to the podcast below:


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“The Times of Bill Cunningham”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: November 17th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Bill Cunningham loved the streets of New York.

Bill Cunningham loved the high society gatherings of New York.

Though you might not know his name, or his work, he chronicled both in photos for decades. Until his passing in 2016, he had a feature page in the Sunday New York Times.

Despite some of the hotity toity company he kept some of the time, Cunningham was a delightfully self effacing fellow, which comes through clearly in the interview with him, around which this delightful documentary is centered.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to NYC, where I love to just walk the streets he chronicled every day. I need to get back.

“The Times of Bill Cunningham” is a reminder of how vibrant that city is.

For more info, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Queen’s Gambit”: Film Review Podcast

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

Think about this for a second.

A really compelling 7 part series about . . . a chess prodigy.

Who is an orphan.

Who becomes addicted to drugs, then alcohol.

All the while working her way up in the world of chess to become a grandmaster.

Credit to Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Beth Harmon as a teen and young adult. The character is flawed, yet charismatic. And brilliantly portrayed by Ms. Taylor-Joy, who holds this whole well-crafted series together.

You can find it on Netflix.

For more insight, listen to my podcast below:

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“The Trial of the Chicago 7”: Film Review Podcast

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

Ever verbose, ever fascinating, ever political director/writer Aaron Sorkin is back it.

This time with a look back at “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

It’s available for streaming on Netflix.

Though not a part of the Chicago protests during the ’68 Democratic convention, and the attendant turmoil, I was involved with Vietnam War protests — Smile at the FBI agents standing on the side, taking our photos — and the Civil Rights Movement. And all the other youth precipitated changes going on at the time.

It was an invigorating moment to be alive and of the age to be in the middle of it.

When he took office, Richard Nixon wanted to punish “the provocateurs” of the protests and violent skirmishes with Mayor Daley’s Chicago police.

The ensuing trial in Judge Julius Hoffman’s federal court turned into a circus.

I don’t know how great a flick Sorkin’s is, but, as someone who was of the time, I loved it.

The trial scenes are accurate, taken directly from the transcripts.

For more insight on the film and the time, listen to my podcast below.


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“American Utopia”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: October 26th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Always intriguing, that David Byrne.

His erudite lyrics, strafing the mundane. Juxtaposed against anglicized African poly rhythms.

His shows all mannered and staged to the slightest movement.

His latest endeavor was a defined-run Broadway show, “American Utopia.”

Which was exquisitely film by Spike Lee, and is available wherever you find HBO.

As for my take on the endeavor, listen to the podcasted review below:

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— c d kaplan