“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:

Audio MP3

— 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.

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan


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“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 »

“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.

Audio MP3

— c d kaplan

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The Night I Said No to Little Richard

Posted: May 9th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Personalities | 2 Comments »

Of the Founding Fathers of Rock & Roll, the quintet whose mugs would be on Mount Rushmore, two were frankly more incendiary than the rest.

It’s not that Elvis, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley weren’t rockin’ and rollin’ in a totally new fashion in the mid 50s.

It’s just that the music of the other two blasted from the tinny speaker of the 7 transistor portable radio I got for my Bar Mitzvah, the device I could put in my bike basket, and thereby take my life’s preferred soundtrack with me wherever I roamed.

One was Jerry Lee Lewis.

When you’re 12 years old and you hear “Great Balls of Fire,” you turn to your pal and scream, “Holy shit, did you hear what he just sang?”

To get a sense of how raucous Jerry Lee could be, youtube his ’64 concert at the Star Club in Hamburg.

(Aside: That Jerry Lee Lewis is the last of those Founding Fathers standing is one of the wonders of the universe.)

The other who pushed the boundaries of the new teen culture to other dimensions was Little Richard. RIP.

His songs propelled. They were insistent. They were outrageous. Read the rest of this entry »

Diversion Tip: NYT Short Film of the Day

Posted: May 7th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Ruminations | No Comments »

Who among us, in these oh so strange and perilous times, isn’t looking for some little way to escape?

If only for a moment or two.

I mean really, how much hard news can a person take?

If you’re looking for live sports, there’s Korean baseball, played in front of empty stands, but the fascination grows old quickly.

Netflix. Prime. Hulu. Criterion.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But there come times during the day when you just want a quick shot, a respite from real life concerns, a mask free interlude, and move on.

So here’s one I discovered that fills that bill, the New York Times Short Film of the Day.

 * * * * *

Some examples.

Today’s (Thursday 5/07) is a clever Oscar nominated confection that’s less than two minutes long.

Yesterday’s was a smile-inducing bit of shtick from mid 20th C.

A couple more for your viewing pleasure: Read the rest of this entry »

“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:

Audio MP3

More JazzFest Musical Memories

Posted: May 2nd, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | No Comments »

Realizing it’s truly an impossible task — sharing my “favorite” JazzFest musical moments that is — I’ve decided to take a different tack for this last take on JazzFest for this year.

Because, I love it all. Even the days when I can hear umpteen different performers and none really grab on and don’t let go.

As I always say, that’s why I keep coming back. From day to day. From year to year. Even now in 2020, when I can only experience the event via WWOZ’s JazzFesting in Place.

So, here’s some quick mentions of some regulars, and I’ll give it up for this time around.

 * * * * *

Have I mentioned how much I cherish Allen Toussaint?

Duh, like only a gazillion times.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with He Who Is My Favorite New Orleans Musical Icon, my favorite musical icon period.

When still alive, Toussaint, except maybe way back in the day, never had a regular band that gigged together all the time, that toured. He was, until Katrina for sure, mostly a writer, producer, arranger. But a sometimes performer.

So, at his annual JazzFest sets, his ensemble was always a put together outfit. The upper echelon of NO players, of course, Men and women who have played with him through the decades. But, not playing regularly, the groups were often not as tight as one might hope.

Plus, his singing voice, never anything truly special, diminished over time.

But ya know, it was always Allen Toussaint with his incredible presence that bridged the gap between dapper and dazzle, and his sweet persona, and his amazing songs and charts. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Trois

Posted: April 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music | No Comments »

There’s a chat room where JazzFest obsessives like myself hang out.

For the acolytes, the Jazz Fest Forum  is a year round thing.

The denizens are called Threadheads, and most seem to know each other from hookups during Fest. Or otherwise. Liuzza’s seems to be the official unofficial meeting place. They also have a party every year during Fest called the Patry. With boffo lineups.

I’m sort of an outlier, an auxiliary Threadhead if you will, having come to the dialog later than most of the regulars. On the way to the Fest a few years back, in the Charlotte airport, I did meet a couple that helped start the Forum. And there’s the NRBQ-loving regular I chatted up a couple years ago between acts at the Gentilly Stage.

It’s a year round deal, but, as you can imagine, conversations ratchet up with the lineup announcement in January, and the posting of the Cubes a month out.

One of the regular threads will deal with lesser known, obscure acts that somebody’s heard in concert with a hearty “You gotta hear this group.”

I check them all out on youtube before making my daily plans. Weeks in advance, I must admit. Plus, disciple that I am, I also check out the ones I don’t know that might not have been recommended.

Which brings to my favorite tip of recent years . . .

. . . Bombino. Read the rest of this entry »