“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”: A Reconsideration of S2

Posted: December 11th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, TV | No Comments »

The other day, an old college chum sent me a review of a film he figures I’d be interested in.

In the missive, he said something to the effect of, I guess you don’t like to read reviews in advance, so it won’t color your take on films.

To which I responded, au contraire, I read far too many reviews in advance, have favorite reviewers who are go to, and I’m sure that habit, for better or worse, does color my perspective.

I also have my own personal predilections which affect my take on a movie or TV series. Coen Brothers always get a break in advance.

Or a second season of a series I loved the first time around, like “Mozart in the Jungle.”

Or, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

At the bottom here, you can listen to my podcasted review of Season 2, rendered for my FPK reviewing duties after watching the first three of the ten episode second season of the beloved, award-winning Amazon Prime comedy.

After consuming, in short time, the rest of the Season 2, I need to posit a more refined and considered take that is positive, but not as much so.

At the time when the series is set, the 1950s, there was a common if sexist in retrospect saying, “A girl has the right to change her mind.”

Well, I’m changing mine. At least, somewhat. Read the rest of this entry »


“The Norsemen”: TV Review Podcast

Posted: October 5th, 2018 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

I’m not going to say a whole lot about the Netflix comedy series “The Norsemen,” now in its second season.

Because it is most difficult to describe. Since it’s a comedy set in Norway in the year 790 and features all Norwegian actors, speaking English thankfully.

It is intelligent. It is droll. It cleverly weaves current day social motifs into its ancient setting.

Most important: It’s funny. Very very funny.

For more, listen below:

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“Killing Eve”: A Review & Podcast

Posted: June 1st, 2018 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

So I ran into my friend Jane last week, who advised her latest TV obsession was the BBC America series, “Killing Eve.”

Which struck me, because in the few days before I’d run across a number of reviews online, all of which were of one mind with praise.

Then, a few days later, I happened to run into some other pals, Mike and Wendy, film and TV buffs with good taste. When I asked if they’d watched “Killing Eve,” they immediately came with the compliments.

So I went home and streamed the first episode of the eight part series that has completed its first season cable run. Hooked, I watched another. Being somewhat compulsive, then another.

Consumed two more the following rainy afternoon. Then the final three episodes that night. Love when something like this lures me into the power binge.

Sandra Oh portrays a British MI5 agent obsessed with female serial killers. Jodie Comer plays a contract killer for a secret international cabal. Or, so we’re led to believe.

Hunter vs. the Hunted. And then the vice versa.

Obviously I was and remain fascinated — there will be a Season 2.

For more details, listen below:

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“Mozart in the Jungle”: Review & Podcast

Posted: March 9th, 2018 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

Every Wednesday, my pals Mike and Don and I eat lunch.

Being relatively intelligent blokes, the conversation can veer in any number of directions. Politics. College hoops. Explaining to Don how to use his smart phone. Old high school flames.

Etc, etc, etc.

More often than not, we’ll venture into the latest TV series that’s grabbed our attentions. The other two like the blood and guts stuff.

I’m not much into that sort and seek out more entertaining fare, less fraught with life and death peril.

“Mozart in the Jungle” fits easily outside the grizzly.

And I just power watched the latest, and, I believe, final season, in two evening sittings.

I couldn’t stop smiling.

Listen up for more reasons to check it out on Amazon Prime:

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“The Deuce”: David Simon Returns with Another Winner

Posted: September 12th, 2017 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, TV | 1 Comment »

Back in the day, a musician pal played a couple of gigs with an ersatz rock & roll band up I-65 from Louisville, in the less than Biblical Nimrod Room of an otherwise closed hotel in Seymour, Indiana.

“Come on up,” he implored, “there’s lots of local ladies.”

While flirting with one, the city of Columbus somehow popped up in the conversation.

“I’ve been to Columbus,” she bragged.

After chiming in that I’d been to several Ohio State football games that fall, it turned out she was talking about Columbus, Indiana, a few miles up the road from Seymour.

Perspective. With that one revelation, I understood the difference in our life experiences, the relatively limited expanse of her world.

In the details, there is to be learned much of a person’s personality and world view.

It is just such subtle, telling instances that make David Simon’s TV work so fulfilling. Usually always for the better, but sometime not, Simon immerses the viewer in the culture he’s talking about, giving the plotline context. The characters, personalities, foibles, humanity are constantly being revealed; they are given dimension. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review Podcast: “Big Little Lies”

Posted: March 22nd, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

Yes, I know there’s usually a film discussed in this space.

That’s why I’ve been comfortable branding myself now and again as the Culture Maven on Film.

But, if you’ve been paying close attention during our time together here, you will note that on occasion I discuss a TV series.

So it is this day, as I expostulate on the glossy Sunday evening HBO soap opera, “Big Little Lies.”

Nicole Kidman. Laura Dern. Adam Scott. (Though in my podcast below I mistakenly and incorrectly say Adam Driver. Were I not so lazy, I’d re-record it.)

Heck, it’s worth a look see if only to find out what Reese Witherspoon’s character in “Election” — Tracy Flick — is like when she grows up and lives in sumptuous surroundings in Monterey.

For more on why you might want to take a look see, you know what to do:

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Review Podcast: “The Night Of”

Posted: September 2nd, 2016 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, Ruminations, TV | No Comments »

nightindexI have written about it a couple of times previously, but feel compelled to share — or reiterate — some final thoughts on this compelling HBO mini series.

It’s ostensibly about a college student charged with murdering a woman whom he meets by chance, but it really has much more depth and is not a run of the mill whodunit.

The uniformly excellent portrayals carry along a compelling storyline. Riz Ahmed. John Turturro. Amara Karan. Jeannie Berlin. Michael K. Williams. They are all marvelous here.

I was addicted.

Listen further for reasons why you might want to check it out, if you weren’t watching during its summer Sunday night run.

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The Spyglass Chronicles: 08/08/16

Posted: August 8th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Music, Ruminations, Spyglass Chronicles, TV | 3 Comments »

chronVittorio Storaro, Santo Loquasto “Café Society” Steve Carrell plays a namedropping super agent in 30s Hollywoodland. His deco wood-paneled office is, as my favorite movie critic Libby Gelman-Waxner would say, “to die for.” Kudos Santo Loquasto, head of production design.

The Los Angeles scenes are sun-splashed amber glorious. You can visualize Gloria Swanson lolling by her pool. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro has again worked his visual magic.

Despite its thin veneer of a plotline — boy falls for girl who is involved with older man, confusion ensues — Woody Allen’s latest is not without its visual charms. The octogenarian is to be forgiven if he doesn’t hit a vein of gold every time out these days. He’s at an advanced age, when most directors have long since given up the chair. But Allen’s keeping a full workload. He’s released a film a year since 1966.

He’s tired. His plot’s a might mundane.

But the flick looks mahvelous.

Lake Street Dive. Iroquois Amphitheater. Rachel Price lorded over the stage like Kathleen Turner’s Matty Walker chewing up and spitting out William Hurt’s Ned Racine in “Body Heat.”

This marvelous quartet is tight, no simple singer and back up, but . . . Read the rest of this entry »


The Spyglass Chronicles: 7/25/16

Posted: July 25th, 2016 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Spyglass Chronicles, TV | No Comments »

chronThe eagle-eyed returnees among you have probably noticed a change in the title of this periodic endeavor to “The Spyglass Chronicles.”  Upon which discovery, you are surely wondering, given the branding image I’ve been using of a pathfinder in buckskin, looking through a spyglass, why hasn’t it been called that all along? To which the answer is, “Duh, I dunno.”

Michael Kenneth Williams, “The Night Of.” Omar — Williams shall forever and always be Omar from “The Wire” to me — is back. As Freddy, the guy at Rikers with the private cell up in the corner at the end of the block. He shtups the women guards, takes care of the guys in uni on the outside, thereby currying favors and ruling the roost. In Episode 3, he offers to protect Naz from the others inside who want to take him down. Looks like the kid is going to need it.

“She’s About A Mover” Sir Douglas Quintet. When the British Invasion hit in the early 60s, the gang from Merrie Ol’ left the redcoats at home and took over pop culture with terrible swift sword. Dominated Top 40, News, Weather & Sports Radio. Even cotton candy music by such as Freddy & the Dreamers and Herman’s Hermits charted. The invaders dominated dress thanks to Carnaby Street. Because of Twiggy, anorexic became the new look.

All some needed to become a deejay radio star was an accent. Happened in Louisville with a guy named Ken Douglas, an English fellow, even though he really didn’t know much about music. He’d had been selling clothes at a local haberdashery, when somebody with a WKLO connection heard his accent. Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review Podcast: “OJ Made In America”

Posted: June 16th, 2016 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

ojindexThe trial of football star come actor OJ Simpson, for the murder of his estranged wife Nicole and Ron Goldman, a waiter who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, riveted America for months.

Those of age at the time watched it daily in full on live TV.

As fascinating as all that was, the entire story is even more fascinating. And revelatory.

Much credit goes to producer/director Ezra Edelman, for this exhaustive and incisive examination of the whole affair, its reflection of American culture and how it changed the dissemination of information thereafter.

“OJ Made In America” is documentary film making of the highest order, well worth watching in the entirety of its five episodes.

For further reasons why to check it out, listen up:

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Film Review Podcast: “Vinyl”

Posted: March 3rd, 2016 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, Music, TV | No Comments »

vinimagesOkay, so, yeah the title of this post is kind of deceptive.

“Vinyl” is not a film.

What “Vinyl” is is a Martin Scorcese/ Mick Jagger-produced HBO series about the wild and wacky days of the music business in the 70s.

Bobby Cannavale is featured as the principal of a record company, trying to change its image, while mired in the excesses of the time.

There’s lots of the staples of the culture of the day.

Sex.

Drugs.

Rock & Roll.

For more details about this not really a guilty pleasure of mine, listen below:

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Rock ‘n’ Roll TV: Stewart’s Sayonara (Springsteen video included) & Ten Angry Men

Posted: August 7th, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, Politics, Ruminations, TV | 3 Comments »

newsIt’s just the morning after. (Actually afternoon, but I’m speaking metaphorically.)

So, it’s way too early to tell if last night’s television fare — the most compelling in memory — was a watershed moment of the medium?

It might have been. Stay tuned.

Even if not, what a fascinating double dip it was.

It was Fox News’s finest hour. The network that has turned passing off conservative propaganda as news into a fine art proved itself capable of at least one shining moment.

Moderators Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly actually moderated a captivating Q & A with the ten GOP presidential candidates currently leading in the polls. They asked tough but fair questions, the kind that had they been presented by Rachel Maddow would have had Hannity and O’Reilly calling her a “commie femoNazi Demo Dyke, pushing the Obama/ Clinton socialist agenda.” Read the rest of this entry »