“Marriage Story”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: December 12th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

I, for one, am truly grateful that, among the gifts bestowed to us during the holiday season, are many of the year’s best films.

More important. Some of them are actual adult dramas, not just comic books and Star Wars reboots.

So, it has come to pass that Noah Baumbach’s heralded “Marriage Story” has arrived on Netflix. (That’s the new paradigm, kids, get used to it.)

The filmtells the searing tale of how Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) deal with each other during the reality of their separation and divorce.

The film is most astutely observed, a sometimes funny look at the phenomenon that plagues about half of all marriages.

It is a master class in tour de force acting. Johansson and Driver craft two of the year’s finest performances.

For more details and observations of the film, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

“Ad Astra”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: September 24th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

It’s been a big year for Brad Pitt.

First he stole the show in Tarantino’s Oscar-favorite homage to Hollywood circa ’69. And bested a Bruce Lee character while doing it.

Now, as an astronaut like his father before him, he is off to deep space to see if dad is still alive somewhere near Saturn?

Papa (Tommy Lee Jones) led a mission 16 years previous and hasn’t been heard from. Most feel he is dead. Space Control seems to believe he still lives and has gone rogue.

What we have here is another take on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” full with Pitt’s voice over inner turmoil, just like Martin Sheen before him in “Apocalypse Now.”

Lots of cool CGI here. It does take place after in outer space.

Along with attempts for it to be more cerebral than your average popcorn fare.

For more details, and to find out if the film works or not, listen to the podcast below.

Audio MP3

Film Review Podcast: “Under the Silver Lake”

Posted: May 20th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

That I am able to review “Under the Silver Lake” is a testament to the new dynamic in the world of cinema.

The trailers for this film showed a year ago or so at the eight screen cineplex in my town that used to show indie films and small films and what used to be known as “art films.” Operative phrase: “used to show.” Now it’s all Avengers all the time, along with other lowest common denominator popcorn flicks. And the film itself never showed.

Sigh. Such is the nature of the biz.

So, if it weren’t for Netflix and Jeff Bezos Prime and their ilk, we’d never have an opportunity to see such as “Under the Silver Lake” and other oddities of interest, but not enough interest to make it to the Heartland on a big screen.

It’s the yin and yang of life.

So, I’m grateful, if somewhat exasperated.

As for the film, more details about which you can learn from listening to the podcast below, well, it intrigues, if not providing total satiation.

Andrew Garfield is an underachiever in LA, who meets Riley Keough one evening, when she’s swimming in his apartment complex pool. They flirt, cuddle and make plans to hook up the next day. But she’s gone, and her apartment is empty.

Garfield commences an odyssey to find her, and discover the meaning of other mysteries abounding in his neighborhood. Along the way, he is bombarded with decades of pop culture references.

For more insight, listen up:

Audio MP3

“Long Shot”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: May 7th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

Yes I was seriously predisposed to like this film.

It is after all a romantic comedy, in which a nerdy writer — Seth Rogen — ends up connecting romantically with the woman who babysat for him in his youth, who happens to be Secretary of State, and who happens to be running for President, and . . . most pertinently . . . who happens to be Charlize Theron.

I mean, a guy can hope, right?

That’s what movies are about most of the time, entertainment, fantasy.

The two connect as actors, making this whole rom com work, even if the plotline is familiar.

They are aided by a brilliant supporting turn by Bob Odenkirk, who plays the sitting president.

For more details, listen up:

Audio MP3

JazzFest ’19, Day 3: Crescent City Faves, Then & Now

Posted: April 28th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | 1 Comment »

Context: New Orleans, the world’s most musical town, is a piano town and it is a horn town.

Kids don’t hide at their friend’s homes in the afternoon to avoid piano lessons.

It is a place where making the roster of the school band is not onerous but an honor.

The spirit force of Satchmo and Jelly Roll is strong, passing from generations to the next.

At this 50th Fest, there are lots of put together sets, honoring the icons of the past, who have influenced and continue to influence the citizenry and providing a harmony in the air down here.

In the Blues Tent before a throng busting its seams was The New Orleans Piano Professors Celebration. Current Masters of the 88s paying homage to their forefathers. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’19, Day 2: Sometimes Enough is Enough

Posted: April 27th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

There are now two days at JazzFest when I have been simply sated, had my fill even though there was tuneage left to be heard, when I was OK to bid adieu before the music stopped.

In 1988, I felt comfortable enough to return to the indulgent charms of New Orleans and rejoined the Fest for the first time since I’d cleaned up my profligate act six years earlier.

I couldn’t get enough, running from stage to stage, heading into the night for more on the Riverboat. By the time the Neville Brothers Band, then at the height of their power took the stage the last day, I was just about consumed . . .

. . . then I heard for the first time Aaron, with only brother Art accompanying him on the piano, singing the lustrous “Arianne.”

Swooping. Soaring. Soulful. Shiver inducing. The Ultimate Aaron.

There was room for nothing more. I was full with satisfaction.

I turned, walked to the car, where I waited for an hour or so for my pals who stayed until the day’s end.

There was a redux of sorts this Friday. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest Day 1.2: Muck & Marvelous Music

Posted: April 26th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | 1 Comment »

Inexorable. JazzFest shall not be deterred.

Gates opened an hour and a half late, thirty minutes past noon.

Music and precipatory deluge poured forth.

Muck ensued. Frolic prevailed nonetheless.

Tis the yin and yang of the deal.

Much ado has been made that this is the 50th JazzFest, and there was serious what goes around comes around context on Day One.

Early on in the Gospel Tent, Cynthia Girtley, a mean pianist and singer in her own right, was paying tribute to New Orleans’ and the World’s First Lady of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson.

Soon enough she got around to “Closer Walk with Thee,” a pivotal point in the lore of JazzFest, as Quint Davis and JF founder George Wein mentioned later on in their interview at the Allison Miner Stage.

The first Fest was in what is now Congo Square, then known as Beauregard Square. About three hundred people showed up. Lots of money was lost. But Wein had commissioned Duke Ellington to write and perform “New Orleans Suite” for an evening performance.

In the afternoon, Wein corralled Sir Duke and Mahalia to join him for a walkthrough of the daytime festivities. They came upon the venerable Eureka Brass Band. When they broke into the aforementioned Jackson classic, Mahalia took the mic and sang the song.

It is said that JazzFest was truly born that moment.

Some of us have been making that closer walk an annual rite. Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’19: Day I, Part I

Posted: April 25th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

Back in the days before the Google, before computerized Radariffic Positrack Weathercast, you could go out blindly into the foray without any real certainty of nature’s intrusions.

No more, of course.

It is the first day of JazzFest, and the gates are, actually were, set to open in about forty minutes from this moment as I sit at the keypad. But those vexing Crescent City skies, as they are wont to do from time to time, have burst forth in abundance.

Arrivez les deluge.

Soooooooo, we are in a holding pattern down here in New Orleans.

I’m reminded of a day years ago, when my krewe breakfasted at Cafe du Monde, sprinkling our apparel with powdered sugar, and our tummies with fried dough as delicioso as there can be. The raindrops that morning were similarly softball sized.

My fellow festers then were not as obsessed as yours truly. One pair decided that a movie or trip to a museum was a more discerning option. But Ms. Phyllis, the most conservative of our gang, said, “let’s do it.” Her hubby agreed. Since which moment I’ve thought of her differently and considered her even more fondly than I had before.

(Meanwhile, as I write, OZ is airing a Henry Butler JF performance from ‘o2. The irony is that the fabled NO piano master  is covering “Riders of the Storm,” at this moment. Henry Buter? The Doors? Have I mentioned how much I love this cockamamie town?)

Of course, I’m reminded of serious inclemencies from the past. Read the rest of this entry »


“Vice”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: February 9th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

I saw an interview with David Koechner the other day.

The very funny comedic actor, whose face you know if not his name, was asked who is the funniest person he knows? This is a fellow who has worked with Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carrell, Fred Willard, Kathryn Hahn, Seth Rogan, and Fred Armisen, all of whom have made somebody’s list as funniest person in film.

Koechner’s seriously surprising answer was Adam McKay, the guy who directed all of the above in the iconic “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”

Well, let’s just say Mr. McKay set aside the funny biz when writing and directing “Vice,” a searing cinematic portrait of former Veep, Dick Cheney.

Not that there isn’t some humor in the flick, but it’s point isn’t to draw laughs.

Mr. McKay, it is apparent, considers Cheney a not very likable fellow, actually an evil guy with a serious agenda.

If you have been skeptical of Cheney, his motives and modus operandi, well, this film will resonate.

On the flip side, it is reported that Ivanka and Jared walked out of the screening they attended.

For more about the movie, listen up:

Audio MP3

 


Confessions of a Compulsive Blender

Posted: February 8th, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Food, Ruminations | 5 Comments »

The true depth of my affliction struck with a not so terrible swift sword just this morning.

As I have done for decades, I was stirring the contents of a large jar of Smuckers Natural Chunky Peanut Butter, which sits on the shelf in a state of separation. “Oil separation is natural,” it states right on the cap.

Before I go on, a bit of background. For breakfast every morning — every single morning, except for maybe a couple of really cold winter days, when a bowl of oatmeal calls my name — I eat a sliced apple, preferably Honeycrisp, smothered in peanut butter.

Natural peanut butter. No added oils. No added sugar. No added nothing. Except a pinch of salt. “Less than 1%,” according to the label.

For years, it was all Smuckers all the time.

Always chunky for the necessary hint o’ crunch.

Several years back, roaming the aisles of Whole Foods, I discovered their equivalent house brand. Simply called 365 Peanut Butter Crunchy. Dry Roasted Peanuts, Salt. Read the rest of this entry »


“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” & “The Favourite”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: January 18th, 2019 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

I’ve been laid up with a leg injury since October, as some of you paying close attention might know, so it’s great to be out and about, if not completely recovered yet.

Which ambulatory ability means I could stop reviewing fare I stream on the computer, and actually make it to the movie house.

Fortunately two films that have been out for awhile — and that I would have reviewed weeks ago under normal circumstances — are still on the big screen.

Hip hip hooray.

Both “The Favourite” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” feature strong female characters, all rendered exquisitely with the highest of craft.

Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in the former, a period piece, set in England in the 18th century. Melissa McCarthy in serious mode as a fallen-on-hard-times writer, who finds a felonious way to use her talents and support herself.

For more reasons to see these films, listen below:

Audio MP3

Film Review Podcast: “The Kominsky Method”

Posted: November 29th, 2018 | Filed under: Ruminations | 1 Comment »

You know how some time you see a movie or a TV series, and, after watching a bit, you say to yourself, that character or those characters, I’m just like them?

Happens every so often.

And it did with me, when I checked out the new Netflix series, “The Kominsky Method.”

Which sweet endeavor features Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas as a couple of alter cockers, dealing with those issues which come with that territory.

If you want more specifics, listen to my podcasted review, or just watch the series.

Anyway, I personally loved it. Partially because I related so much with the two characters. But also because it’s excellently done, and it is eminently endearing and entertaining.

Not as out there as the Larry David Show, with which it shares some elements. Just daily interaction of a couple old pals coping with the exigencies of their well worn lives as pals.

For more, listen up:

Audio MP3