“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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PBS’s “Country Music”: Review & Podcast

Posted: September 20th, 2019 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, Music, TV | 1 Comment »

It would seem to me that to call Ken Burns an American treasure would be understatement.

The fellow has provided history and cultural perspective on any number of topics through the decades with his excellently crafted PBS documentaries.

The Vietnam War.

Jazz.

The Civil War.

To name but three.

He, along with c0-producer Dayton Duncan, have done it again.

This time the subject matter is the history and evolution and importance of Country Music.

It is 16 hours long, divided into 8 two-hour episodes. The first four aired last Sunday through Wednesday. The final four shall commence for four straight nights, starting this Sunday evening. The series can also be streamed through the middle of October at pbs.org.

It’s a brilliant piece of documentary filmmaking, and a must see for all music fans.

For more insight on the series, 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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“Los Espookys”: Review & Podcast

Posted: August 27th, 2019 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

How often have I complained about the lack of comedic movies or TV series that are both unique and actually funny?

A lot. Too much probably.

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce those who aren’t aware of the sublime pleasures of “Los Espookys.”

Which is a six episode HBO series that centers on a quirky band of characters, who stage horror scenarios.

It is all too sublime and humorous.

Significantly more detail that should lure you into streaming this gem is provided in the podcast below. Even more than usual, it will be well worth your time to listen:

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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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“Fleabag”: Review & Podcast

Posted: August 9th, 2019 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

I stopped watching the first season of this most quirky and darkly comic British TV series after a couple of episodes.

To be honest, it just wasn’t working for me.

Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s main character whom she also portrays — no real name given, just Fleabag — struck me as too disagreeable and not a very nice person. Thus someone I didn’t feel like spending much time with.

But, so positive were the reviews for Season 2, I decided to give it another chance. It’s on Amazon Prime.

The first episode of the second go round is a perfect comedic depiction of every uncomfortable family dinner you’ve been to that blew apart because of underlying dysfunction, sibling rivalry, problems with in laws, mommy or daddy issues, parental discord or any and all of the above.

Loved it. It was too good. And the season just got better from there. Some of her redeeming social values come forth.

Waller-Bridge’s character pulls the audience in by breaking the fourth wall. She’s constantly turning her head to the camera and sharing intimacies just with us.

Often such affectations As talking to the audience can be off-putting. Here it only enhances what I will now admit is an idiosyncratic comedic gem to be savored.

Did I mention she has a tryst with a priest in a confessional?

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

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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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