“Lady Macbeth”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: August 10th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Fortunately it matters not if you haven’t an inkling about the Shakespeare play, in which there is a Lady Macbeth as a major character.

William Oldroyd’s spare, dour but compelling film, “Lady Macbeth,” is not based on the Bard’s play, but on a Russian novel.

Since I’m one of those with no real knowledge about the most heralded playwright in the history of the English language, it was with more than a little relief that I was able to savor this completely different tale.

Mostly thanks to a truly commanding performance by Florence Pugh, as a bought bride in a loveless, abusive marriage in rural England in the 1860s.

Out of the blue — I had never heard of her before — here’s an astute young actress who dominates the screen and portrays Katherine with eerie confidence and nuance. Like some young — Dare I say it? — Meryl Streep.

Though we remain curious as to how her character came to be whom she is as the plot unfolds. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review Podcast: “Atomic Blonde”

Posted: July 29th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

What was once but a trickle has now become somewhat of a groundswell. Operative word: somewhat.

A number of loyal readers have offered how they appreciate written film reviews, as opposed to podcasted ones. The comments aren’t falling on deaf ears. It is my intention to start writing more of them in the future. And thank you all for your input.

Understand, I’m obligated to podcast a review per week for WFPL’s Facebook page. So that’s why I tend to simply record them. But shall endeavor to write some up when a film is worthy of the effort.

Which is to sort of explain why today’s review of “Atomic Blonde” is simply a podcast.

Not that I didn’t like it. Or that it’s a great movie.

If you listen, you’ll understand I simply haven’t the capability to be objective when it comes to Charlize Theron.

So, here it is:

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Film Review Podcast: “The Big Sick”

Posted: July 9th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 2 Comments »

Just the other day I reviewed a new comedy — it shall remain nameless — and lamented the dearth of funny films in contemporary times.

Now who is the fool after savoring every bit of “The Big Sick?”

Correct answer: Me.

This romantic comedy written by and about the relationship of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon is spot on. Funny. Romantic. Intelligent. Real.

The humor isn’t forced, but is generated by daily life, regardless of the exigencies.

As you can tell, I was quite taken by the film.

For more precise reasons why I suggest you see this, listen below:

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Film Review Podcast: “The House”

Posted: July 6th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

In considering this latest comedy featuring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as parents who must find enough money to send their daughter off to college, I work from the premise that there are way fewer truly funny comedies these days than in times past.

I provide some reasons for my supposition. They may be valid or simply pooh pooh kah kah. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

But it does lead to my perspective on why comedies are generally ripped by critics these days.

And why I believe “The House,” which is far from special, still deserves more credit than it’s getting.

For further explanation, please listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “BANG Bert Berns Story”

Posted: July 2nd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

As much as I know about the early days of rock & roll, there’s always somebody of import who escaped my attention.

So it was, until I viewed this documentary, with Bert Berns, a songwriter and producer. Among the diverse songs he’s responsible for are “Twist & Shout,” “A Little Piece of My Heart,” and “Hang on Sloopy.”

He was super talented.

He was a little wacked.

And he was connected to the mob.

It’s a fascinating tale.

“BANG The Bert Berns Story” is showing this weekend at the Speed Museum. But only twice. Saturday 7/08 at 7:00, and Sunday 7/09 at 3:00.

To learn why you music lovers should make plans to see it, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Baby Driver”

Posted: June 29th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I was certainly anxious to see this flick.

Because, frankly, I’m not aware of a car chase shoot ’em up that’s gotten such an over the top positive response from a vast majority of the nation’s leading film critics. (I know I shouldn’t read those things ahead of time, but I simply can’t help myself.)

So, the question before us today is: Does Edgar Wright’s musical about a sweet kid with bad hearing, great driving chops and good musical taste who drives getaway cars for some truly heinous dudes stand up to the essentially universal praise?

Does the Culture Maven fall in line, join the lock stepping critical cognoscenti?

Rebel as I would like to think I am, I pretty much do so.

Despite a few flaws, this is damn enjoyable summer entertainment.

For more insight, please do listen up.

(But beware, because of some seriously bad editing of my own script, mea culpa maxima, I utter a few sentences in the middle of this thing, which are, frankly, incomprehensible. But a boffo and seriously entertaining review it remains.)

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Film Review Podcast: “Beatriz At Dinner”

Posted: June 23rd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

John Lithgow’s character in “Beatriz At Dinner” is oh so very Trumpian.

Salma Hayek’s Beatriz is a spiritual sort, a healer.

Thus it is easy to assume, at least for most of us, who is the heroine and who is the villain.

But, such is not the case. At least for this reviewer.

Nor, perhaps, for the filmmakers, whose focus and purpose seem somewhat diffuse.

For a more detailed explanation, listen below:

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Culture Maven on Film: “A Long Strange Trip”

Posted: June 15th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

You may love the Grateful Dead. Perhaps even be an acolyte.

You may hate the Grateful Dead, even if a music buff. Have found their music thin, lacking soul.

You may never have heard a note of their music, or may or may not be aware of the extent of the band’s cultural and social relevance.

So, the idea of a five hourish documentary on the band and the culture surrounding it might pique your interest. Or, causing a yawn.

Never a Deadhead, but having heard the group any number of times, and being an observer as I say of the passing scene, I am fascinated by this excellent documentary.

For more, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan”

Posted: June 9th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Native Louisvillian Wendy Whelan was for years the prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet.

She retired from that heralded company a couple of years back.

This is a fascinating and quite intimate documentary about how all that came about.

There is engrossing footage of Ms. Whelan’s craft, displaying why she ascended to the top of the world of American ballet. But also her emotions as she contemplated the end of her run with the company.

The film is currently scheduled for but five showings in Louisville next weekend only, June 16-18 at the Speed Museum Theater.

For a more in depth analysis why you should see this film, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Wonder Woman”

Posted: June 2nd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

In the early 80s I had a crush on a woman who looked just like Lynda Carter, who was the Wonder Woman of the ’70s TV series.

Which is of zero consequence here, other than to say I enjoyed the new film release of “Wonder Woman.”

To the extent that I only dwell on my self indulgence but for a short interlude at the commencement of my review. But then proceed to spend most of it actually talking about the movie.

OK, there’s one other diversion.

But also an incisive look at the film, which is, more importantly, entertaining.

Listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Wizard of Lies”

Posted: May 30th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Falls of the rich and famous from grace never seem to fail to fascinate.

Given the amount of money Bernie Madoff stole from people — billions of dollars — to live a lavish lifestyle and turn himself into a financial superstar, the story of his comeuppance remains captivating a decade after the fact.

This HBO film, starring Rober DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Hank Azaria, depicts the fall, focusing on what happened to the Madoff family.

It’s based on interviews with Madoff, after he’d gone to prison.

Did Ruth and the sons know?

Well, watch the film. I do hint at the answer in my podcast review below:

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Film Review Podcast: “Baywatch”

Posted: May 26th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

What I shall assume you are expecting, if you choose to listen to the podcasted review below, is a pithy dismissal of this cinemazation of the iconic TV series that made Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff famous.

Think again.

Of course, there’s not much there there with this iteration of Baywatch, featuring The Rock, Zac Efron, Kelly Rohrbach and Alexandra Daddario.

What did you expect, the filmmakers to turn this into something Shakespearean?

Despite the obvious and expected deficiencies, I found “Baywatch” way more than palatable.

Of course, it ain’t gonna win any awards.

But, at the very least, it will allow us to determine if Dwayne Johnson has what it takes to win the presidency in 2020?

Do listen below:

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