Atlanta Pop ’70, Fifty Years On

Posted: June 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Music, Ruminations | Tags: | No Comments »

This Independence Day marks the half century anniversary of the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival. 

The following memories of mine were written and published a decade ago on the occasion of the event’s 40th anniversary. They have been edited, and updated, though my memory of that time long ago far away is absolutely no better on its own than ten years ago.

Which is why I reached out to a few friends who were at the festival, and, I’ve included the memories of those who responded and have any somewhat cogent recollection at all. They are added in italics. c d k 

Captain Canada and The Mailman.

It’s fifty years gone this Fourth of July weekend since those nicknames were bestowed upon my pal Stephen and me at the Atlanta Pop Festival.

Many if not most of the memories of that magical interlude have long been lost in the daze of time. But this I can say for sure. We came upon those identities honestly.

As for the rest of that weekend outside Byron, Georgia, the tales told here are probably true, but perhaps not. Only the synapses of my and pals’ hippocampi know for sure. And they’ve long since lost most if not all connectitude to that time and place. Read the rest of this entry »


“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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Drinking a Mounds Bar: Coping With Today

Posted: May 19th, 2020 | Filed under: Coping Today | No Comments »

First in a series of musings about life changes big and small our new reality has wrought. 

Fashioning a drink that tastes like a candy bar was not something I’d considered when this whole staying at home thing was covid-forced upon us.

And I’ll get to how I came to a satisfying if strange concoction of sorts soon enough.

Getting there is somewhat serpentine. My default way.

Being a fellow with daily rituals, long held habitual behavior, and someone fairly comfortable with my own company, coping with our new reality has likely been less onerous for me than most.

Which isn’t to say, I’d love do lunch, head to the moviehouse and the ballpark, and, you know, interact up close and personal with other human beings.

Anyway, like most, I’ve developed some new methods of coping with the required insular lifestyle this pandemic has caused. Read the rest of this entry »


“What’s Up, Doc?”: Cinema Rewind

Posted: May 17th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema | No Comments »

Another in a series of short reviews, in which I go back and watch a movie again, then post a reconsideration. 

OK, so, this time around, that’s a lie. I start all posts of this series with something like that, sort of as a ploy so you might explore other entries on my site.

Truth here is I never before viewed the Peter Bogdanovitch-directed follow up to heralded “The Last Picture Show.”

I was directed to this comedy by a feature in the New York Times, where critics Manohlo Dargis and A.O. Scott suggest a film to watch over the weekend, then solicit comments in the NYT Movie section.

Because this film is meant to induce laughter, and nothing calls for some humor like our current situation, I bit. I knew enough about the Barbra Streisand/ Ryan O’Neal flick to know going in it’s silly.

Silly can be good.

And silliness is the overriding, perhaps overwhelming character trait of this caper/ love story set in San Francisco. Buck Henry wrote it, and anybody familiar with his resumé knows he can get to the absurd fairly easily. And Bogdanovich, long an aficionado of the history of movies, longed to recreated a Screwball comedy. Read the rest of this entry »


“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

 

You can now subscribe for FREE and get all my posts here, delivered directly to your email in box. Just fill out the simple form below. 


“Winter Kills”: Cinema Rewind

Posted: May 13th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema | No Comments »

This is another in a series, in which I review films from the past, recently rewatched. 

I was frankly suspicious of “Winter Kills” from the get go.

Come on, a dark comedy, fictionalizing the conspiracy angles of the Kennedy assassination, which happened a decade and a half before this movie’s release in the late 70s.

An interesting premise on first blush. But . . .

Lots of prerelease buzz. Seemingly too much.

Then again, it was based on a book by Richard Condon, who had written the best conspiracy scenario ever put on celluloid, “The Manchurian Candidate.”

That the endeavor had money problems during its filming, and rumors of the mob’s involvement in underwriting the cost, added to the sordid allure. And skepticism.

Always engaging everyguy Jeff Bridges as the younger brother of the slain president. John Huston as the family patriarch.

Bridges’ character hears a dying man’s claim that he was the second shooter of his brother, the deceased president. So, Huston sends Bridges out to track down who was behind the assassination plot. Turns out to be a wild goose chase, on psychedelics.

Lots of interactions with wacky ne’er do wells. Lots of deaths, foreshadowed by a woman and child, riding by on a bicycle. (How so very ’70s.)

There’s a whole passel of big names in small, supporting, cameo roles, including stalwarts like Richard Boone, and Elizabeth Taylor (uncredited).

It just seemed like, I don’t know, too much to ask of a movie, when the Kennedy assassination was still reasonably fresh.

And it was, too much to ask that is.

In 1979.

And, even more the other night, when I started rewatching it, but, weary, turning it off before completion. And the next morning, when, with time on my hands, I decided to go ahead and view the last half hour. Read the rest of this entry »


“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 »