“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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“Red Oaks”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 19th, 2020 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | 1 Comment »

 

Life is just too strange these days.

I mean, really really really strange. Scary. Perilous.

So, what I’m looking for is something comfortable and entertaining. Simple, easy diversion.

Which I found in a recent but not brand new Amazon Prime TV series, “Red Oaks.”

Set in the 80s, around characters who are members or work at a not really tony country club, it proved familiar to me. So I powerwatched the 26 episodes in four evenings.

Though archetypes, most every character is sort of unique and well-played enough that I wanted to learn how their daily life situations played out.

There is nothing earth shattering here. No dazzling special effects, or groundbreaking insight into life. Just often funny, sometimes poignant situations for characters I came to care about.

I was smitten.

For significantly more detail — you probably want some if you think about diving in — listen to the 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

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“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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“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

 

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“Young Adult”: Cinema Rewind

Posted: May 12th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

This is the first in a series, called, duh, Cinema Rewind, of undetermined duration, in which I discuss movies from the past that I’ve just taken a second look at. 

There is something about the end of high school that’s the great dividing point in many peoples lives.

What has been prescribed for us through age 18 has now ended.

How does the ark of life turn from there?

It’s a fascinating subject to me, and there have been any number of films through the decades that have examined it.

It is the underlying premise of “Young Adult,” in which Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), unhappy with her alcoholic life as a ghost writer in Minneapolis, decides what she needs to do is go back to her small Minnesota town, and win back her HS BF Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson).

Even though he is married, happily. And he and his bride have just had a baby.

There’s more about the totality of the plot in the podcast below.

I want to make special mention here of a most poignant scene late in the film, one of many, when Mavis is having coffee with Sandra (Collette Wolfe), the sister of Matt (Patton Oswalt), a high schooler who meant nothing to Mavis when she was Queen of the Hop, but with whom she’s just spent the night, and you know. Read the rest of this entry »


“Natalie Wood – What Remains Behind”: Film Review/Podcast

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

It was the time of Marilyn. Monroe, if you need to be spoon fed.

But the Hollywood star who always got to me during my teenage years was Natalie Wood.

Not only was she a really fine actor, who gave the world any number of strong, iconic cinematic performances.

But she was a very smart, most interesting person.

And, as is underscored in the new HBO documentary, “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind,” she was a doting mother, who was willing to set career aside when need be to be there for her children.

This doc, as one figured it would, gets around to her untimely demise, her drowning off Catalina Island. Enough with that already.

But it also sets out that she should be remembered for much more than that.

For further details and discussion of the recommended documentary, listen to the podcast below.

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— c d kaplan

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“Unorthodox”: Film Review Podcast

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

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There’s a certain fascination with strict cultures around the globe, where stringent ways of living have been passed down by the elders through the centuries in order that a homogeneous society will be maintained.

Arranged marriages.

An abundance of rituals.

In modern times, it often chafes at the younger members born into the culture in a freer world.

This is a four part Netflix series based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, who felt it necessary to escape a Hasidic community in Brooklyn.

Some liberties are taken in the series, but it remains a fascinating and compelling watch.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

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“Bad Education”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: April 29th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

It must be acknowledged that a tale of high school administrators embezzling money from a school system is not the most compelling or sexiest of topics.

To fashion an engaging movie from such a scenario takes serious craft.

Which director Cody Finley and writer Mike Makowsky have accomplished in the HBO Original, “Bad Education.”

Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney excellently portray the real life Frank Tassone and Pam Gluckin. Who a few decades ago were beloved by a Long Island school system, at the same time they were stealing millions of dollars from the system’s coffers.

They were outed by the high school newspaper.

“Bad Education” lays out the whole situation in an appealing way. Really good acting make that happen.

For more on this film, listen to the podcast below:

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“Run”: Review & Podcast

Posted: April 16th, 2020 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, for whom everything she touches these days turns to gold, is back at it.

This time as executive producer of a Sunday night HBO series, called “Run.”

Intriguing premise, here.

College sweeties move on with separate lives after graduation, but vow to reconnect and rendezvous immediately at a designated time and place, should one text “Run” to the other, with the same one word reply.

So Ruby and Billy abandon their current lives, and find themselves on an Amtrak heading west out of Grand Central Station.

The well-played, well-conceived opening episode sucked me in.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

 

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