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 »


CM’s Rants, Raves & Reviews: Richard Nixon & The Bud Puppy

Posted: February 2nd, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, Sports, TV | No Comments »

historyThere are times, when I’m not really sure how to title these publications as podcasts of my Saturday morning FPK 91.9 rants, raves and reviews. Which I do normally the Monday after the Saturday morn before, when they are propagated live on a witting audience.

(Actually after throwing down that little alteration in the paragraph above, I may have discovered it. If that phrase is in the title, which it is not currently as I write this before posting, you’ll know I’ve changed my mind.)

Anyhow, this one’s an especially perceptive bit of buffoonery, covering matters as far and deep as political scandal, saccharine TV ads, workforce displacement . . . oh the entirety of topics fails me now, so abundant were they in number.

Which means, it is my not entirely self serving advice to listen up, for as enjoyable a couple of minutes as you’re likely to experience the day you’re here to hear.

Just click below:

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Revisiting “The Wire”: Still the Best

Posted: January 5th, 2015 | Filed under: Culture, TV | No Comments »

tvwatchHBO replayed what I’ve always thought is the best drama ever, “The Wire,” over five consecutive days during the holidays. In HD.

So, I watched with a critical eye.

I tend to pontificate when it comes to consideration of this examination of life in Baltimore, so good have I considered after two viewings in years past all the way through, five seasons worth. I felt I needed to check my perspective.

And, after savoring most of it again last week, I came to a different conclusion.

It’s even better than I thought.

For further details, listen up:

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Monday Morning Musing’s: Newsroom, That Wendy’s Redhead, Phones at the Flicks & Much Much More

Posted: July 29th, 2013 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Ruminations, TV | 3 Comments »

Is it me?

Or do others of you find that redhead in the Wendy’s commercials, THE MOST ANNOYING PERSON EVER ON TELEVISION?

Not to shout or anything.

I am a mild mannered guy. I respect women, and loathe the thought of physical violence. Yet, when she comes on in one of those commercials, I have the urge to slap her across the face with the back of my hand.

Yes, I know it’s my issue. But, boy oh boy, does she get on my nerves.

Her name, by the by, is Morgan Smith. She’s from Cullman, Alabama, and has done a lot of work in the theater.

Which leads me to believe that’s not her true personality in those advertisements. Thus, making me wonder why the ad agency and producers of the commercials would want her to be such a cloying, know-it-all? Read the rest of this entry »


Thumbs Up for Larry, Down for Vinnie: HBO Sunday Night

Posted: July 25th, 2011 | Filed under: Ruminations, TV | 2 Comments »

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” has not always been an easy watch for me.

Not that I don’t think that Larry David’s alter cocker Jewish humor isn’t funny. I do.

It’s just that way too many episodes are just like my life: David, Bill and I watching a ballgame together. Or going out to dinner, either with our significant others or just the guys. It’s like this is me, didn’t I just live this out yesterday watching U of L play?

Old Jewish guys giving each other shit, switching triangulations, complaining about customer service at the florist or our aches and pains du jour. Read the rest of this entry »


Whither (Responsible) Weather Warnings?

Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Filed under: Community, Culture, Ruminations, TV | 1 Comment »

You don’t need a weatherman/ To know which way the wind blows

My guess is that many of you, sitting in your basements last night, perhaps wearing that toy hardhat you got when renovating your house, with your flashlights, a week’s supply of bottled water, and your cat scurrying about, investigating every dank nook and cranny, might have wondered why such the attention to Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday?

Or, probably not.

But the guy did cut a phrase appropriate for any occasion.

Be glad I spared you the entirety of “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”

I was down in the cellar last night. With family and lanterns and dog in her favorite chair lugged down there and cat scurrying about, investigating every nook and cranny. And radio, turned to the weather. And TV, tuned to the weather. Read the rest of this entry »


Boardwalk Empire Bored Me

Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, TV | 2 Comments »

Not being part of the TV critic’s cognoscenti, I’ve only seen the one premier episode like the rest of the world.

So the first question — and a legit one at that — is whether it’s fair to judge this much hyped HBO prohibition-era gangster saga, based on that single episode?

Probably not.

Since when has a single such sampling stopped somebody with an opinion and Word Press in this contemporary age of instant gratification, instant response, instant judgement?

Considering myself an observer of some discernment, I shall refrain totally damning “Boardwalk Empire” solely on the basis of its lame inaugural episode. But I’ll tell ya, I know “The Sopranos.” I know “Only in America.” I know “The Godfather Saga.” I know “The Wire.” So far, even with Mahatma Martin Scorcese in the director’s chair, “Boardwalk Empire” you couldn’t shine those other series’ shoes.

And it’s obvious from the star maker machinery that’s been in place, from the PR anschluss heralding the recreation in exactitude of the era’s Atlantic City boardwalk on a Brooklyn back lot, that HBO is looking for a redux of “Deadwood,” the return of Paulie Walnuts and Omar Little combined.

So much so, that the series teases us in the opener with the quickest of cameos by Michael K. Williams, the actor who played the beguiling Omar in “The Wire.” He’s sitting in an ante room, awaiting an audience with Nucky Thompson, the centerpiece crime kingpin of the series, played inappropriately by the eminently talented but woefully miscast Steve Buscemi. Williams’ character here — called cleverly Chalky White — has a single line which has absolutely no resonance with anything else in the episode.

As for Buscemi? Carl Showalter in “Fargo?” Absolutely. Donny Kerabatsos in “The Big Lebowski?” Of course. But a powerful, duplicitous, bootlegging but upstanding citizen of Atlantic City around which an entire series is being fashioned? Uh, I don’t think so. At least, not yet.

And that’s just one of the flaws that plagued the premiere. Hokey, trite dialog is another. Also, trying too hard for period authenticity to the point where the sets looked like some curio.

To me, the characters almost to a man and woman seemed one-dimensional caricatures from the start.

Then there’s the pseudo-hipness, best exemplified by a Corleonesqueish scene where bad stuff is going contemporaneously with a vaudeville comedian’s show, in which he’s regaling an audience with “my wife is so dumb” jokes.

Have I given up entirely on “Boardwalk Empire?”

Probably not. I’m sure I’ll watch another episode or two, hoping it gets a hum going.

The premiere was a colossal disappointment, if you ask me.