“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

“The Forty-Year-Old Version”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: October 18th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There are more than a few of us who get to “middle age,” say the cusp of our fortieth birthday, and wonder what life has in store?

Such is the conundrum for Radha, the centerpiece of director/ screenwriter/ star Radha Blank’s film debut.

It’s streaming on Netflix.

The character Radha was an up and comer a decade earlier, and now she finds herself teaching HS drama to make her rent. Archie, her bestie from HS (Peter Kim) is her agent and is trying this best to get one of her plays staged.

Radha is also considering the world of hip hop, a musical genre for which she has a legitimate affinity.

She’s also dealing with grief from the death of her artist mother.

The black and white film set in NYC is often funny, sometimes awkward and significantly insightful. And full with many minor but craftily designed minor characters.

For more insight and info, listen to the podcast below.

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“Fargo Season 4”: Review/ Podcast

Posted: October 11th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | 1 Comment »

I love love love the Coen Brothers’ “Fargo,” and am also a believer in Noah Hawley’s FX TV series, which is an offshoot of it.

“Fargo” is now in Season 4, and this time around is ostensibly about a 1950 gang war in Kansas City, between the entrenched local mafia and an ambitious gang of up and comers, led by Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon.

But what I love most about these series are the characters.

Most all quirky.

Often evil.

Sometimes both.

Jessie Buckley’s nurse Oraetta Mayflower is the one who has pulled me in this go round.

I’ve watched three episodes as of this writing, and am intrigued. But I haven’t a clue yet what her motives are.

Which is to say, I’m locked in.

For more reasons why you should consider checking out Fargo Season 4 on FX, listen to the podcast below

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“My Octopus Teacher”: Film Review Podcast

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

I’ll cut to the chase.

This extraordinary real life film is my favorite of the year.

It bears the Culture Maven’s highest recommendation.

It’s on Netflix. Go watch it. It’s even kid friendly.

In the broadest sense, it’s about a fellow Craig Foster — whom I believe I mistakenly call a naturist instead of a naturalist in my podcast — who takes to diving in a kelp forrest in the Atlantic, off the shore of South Africa.

Where he develops a year long relationship with an octopus.

This is real life, a documentary, not drama or animated fantasy.

It is visually sumptuous.

It is instructional.

It is emotive.

For more info, listen to my podcast below:

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“Enola Holmes”: Film Review Podcast

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

I’ve been aware of Sherlock Holmes for decades, and with the various and sundry retellings of his detective prowess.

But, frankly, I never knew he and officious brother Mycroft had a younger sister.

Well, they do. And here young Enola Holmes is portrayed with charm and charisma by Millie Bobby Brown.

When mother (Helena Bonham Carter) disappears, Enola is off to London to find her, and discover what she’s up to.

The Netflix film is a bit longer than it might be. And the plot wobbles some.

But so enchanting is Brown in the lead, that all that is eventually forgiven.

For further edification, listen to the podcast below:

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“Amélie”: Film Review/Podcast

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

Over the last several months, the hints kept mounting that I should go back and rewatch Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s romantic fable from 2001, starring Audrey Tautou.

So, I finally did last night, at HBO On Demand.

And, oh my, it’s even better than I remember, confirming why I’ve always considered it one of my twenty or so favorite movies.

Amélie, a waitress in a Montmarte bistro, takes to being an angel of sorts, helping those around her to move beyond their boundaries. She comes in contact with all sorts of interesting folks.

Along the way, she finds love of her own. I mean, you know, this is a French flick, right?

Plus it all takes place in the Paris of our dreams.

For significantly more insight into this film, which comes with my highest recommendation, listen to the podcast below:

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“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: September 8th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Charlie Kaufman has been sort of a cult fave since he wrote the screenplays for the exceptionally weird, but entertaining, often delightful “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Then he began directing also, and his movies got a might darker and ever more cerebral along the way.

His latest, available on Netflix, stars Jesse Plemons (as a character named Jesse) and Jessie Buckley, who has one of several names. Or, perhaps none at all.

That’s but the beginning of the incomprehensibility.

The film is called, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” which refers to their relationship, or so it would seem, rather than either ending his or her life.

The movie is as bleak as its title.

I’d suggest listening to the entirety of my review below, should you be considering viewing this.

Just sayin’.

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“Goodbye Columbus”: Film/Novella Review Podcast

Posted: August 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Here’s the deal.

I cannot recall ever comparing a film with the book it may have been based upon.

They are separate creative entities, and succeed or fail separately, regardless of how similar or different they might be.

A film’s a film.

A novel’s a novel.

So, what we have here with “Goodbye Columbus,” the 1969 film based on Philip Roth’s novella from a decade earlier, is an exception to my no longer steadfast rule.

I found myself, watching the movie, and feeling differently about it, than when I viewed it at the time of its release. So I pulled the book off the shelf, and reread it.

And, in an unexpected turn, I felt compelled to compare them.

To learn what I think, listen to the podcast below:

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