JazzFest Eve: The Tribes have Gathered

Posted: April 26th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 6 Comments »

So, Suzette, she of Mitchell and Suzette, the Connecticut couple the Film Babe and I met several years back as we all were strolling to the Louisiana Music Factory for the Day Before Pow Wow, is standing with Jordan, their daughter, a JazzFest neophyte.

They have a bunch of album covers splayed out on a counter top. Jordan’s deciding which ones to buy, her decision based somewhat on music but just as much perhaps more on cover aesthetics. She’s going to frame and hang them in her new abode in NYC where she’s doing PR for Columbia Records.

Among the LPs, hopefully for the cover not so much the tuneage, is a Village People release.

A fellow walks by, glances over their shoulders and immediately enters the conversation as folks are wont to do here when the tribes gather for fest. He advises: “You know, I was in the Village People.”

To which proclamation the ladies look askance over their shoulders, with bemused doubt.

“No, true,” he continues, “I was the construction guy.

“And I invented the whole YMCA thing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Reckless Road Trip to JazzFest

Posted: April 25th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Food, Ruminations | 3 Comments »

I could have jammed all the way through to New Orleans in one day. I’ve done it many a time. But that’s when I was younger and my piss and vinegar levels were higher.

So I had a res at one of these generic interstate service area motels, the ones that keep their lights on for you, even if the baseboards are falling away from the plastic wallpaper. And I was getting close to it and Meridian, home of Jimmie Rodgers, and couldn’t decide whether to be prudent, stop, get a good night’s rest and finish up on the morrow as planned? Or, put the pedal to the metal and sleep under the Crescent City’s yellow moon yellow moon?

That’s when I noticed that I, with a penchant for mph in the 80s, was trundling along at 56 miles per hour.

Taking the internal hint, I figured it was best to stop, pulled off, cruised by Cracker Barrel and Applebee’s and into the parking lot of my fully laminated hostel. There will be no late night snacking at Café du Monde this evening.

And then a weird trip got more furshlungener. Read the rest of this entry »

Crescent City is Calling My Name

Posted: April 19th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 4 Comments »

Am I obsessed?

Well, I guess.

Thus, truth is I really didn’t need the first t-shirt. At least not “now” which is when I wanted it and got it about the time of the Cubes reveal.

Nor the second one the initial one begat, thanks to digital marketing. At the very least I could have waited until my annual visit down to New Orleans, now less than a week away. Then I could have checked out Dirty Coast, the store selling them, unencumbered by these previous purchases. Which, frankly, won’t be weighing on my mind if there’s some other Crescent City-centric tchotchke or item of apparel that grabs my attention.

The first shirt is a mash up of New Orleans street names, done up like one of those charts at the ophthalmologist’s office that you’re ordered to view with one eye closed and read the smallest letters you can.

If you’ve ever spent any time around and about in the town, you couldn’t have missed that the street names aren’t just a step or three beyond Market, Main and Shady Lane, but venture into a whole different dimension.

If you’ve ever smiled as a first time visitor tries to pronounce Tchoupitoulas when asking directions from the hotel concierge, you know what I mean.

(It’s chop-ah-too-luss. Remember, this is a town where many thoroughfares are named for Greek muses, but you’d never suspect, even if forced to study Greek somewhere along the way that Calliope Street would be pronounced kal-eee-ope.) Read the rest of this entry »

“Isle of Dogs”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: April 13th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Wes Anderson stands with David Lynch as the most what’s-up-with-that? directors working in “mainstream” cinema these days.

The question that trails Anderson like a hellhound is whether he’s just in it for the quirky?

Really, think about it, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Moonlight Kingdom” are intentionally weird.

Is that Anderson’s ultimate purpose?

I dunno.

But I do know that his latest, “Isle of Dogs,” is just as off the charts as those mentioned above and his previous creations.

It’s certainly interesting and unusual.

I liked it.

Listen here for more details:

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“Goldstone”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: April 6th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Ivan Sen’s stark but riveting little film about a mining company’s shenanigans at an outpost of a town in the Australian Outback is laden with tropes from several genres.

There’s the degenerate lawman loner in from out of town to clean up a mess.

There’s the lone town cop, conflicted between his ethics and leaving well enough alone.

There’s the mayor on the take.

There are the natives, whose land is being raped.

And that ain’t all.

But even with all the been there done that, this gem works.

The land itself is a character, vast and foreboding. That’s what hold it all together and makes it work, cinematic clichés notwithstanding.

For further edification, listen up:

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“The Death of Stalin”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: April 2nd, 2018 | Filed under: Ruminations | No Comments »

When it comes to scathing, incisive and truly hilarious political satire, Armando Iannucci sits at the top of the heap, the master of masters.

2009’s “In the Loop,” a film about British and American pols and military folks trying to figure out whether to go to war or not and how to manage it, was my first exposure. It was so obsessively funny, I kept thinking who thought this stuff up?

Armando Iannucci, that’s whom.

If you’ve ever chortled over HBO’s “Veep,” know that he’s one of those most responsible for that spot on take on D.C. political machinations. (Incidentally, he wrote a fabulous op ed piece recently in the Washington Post, explaining why the current administration is bad for the political satire biz, because what’s actually going on is beyond believability, too absurd, would be dismissed if fiction as bad comedy.)

Well, he’s back and biting and entertaining as ever. The premise this time — take your seats — is the wackiness that might have ensued inside the Kremlin when dictator Josef Stalin died.

Really? Really.

Come on now, Steve Buscemi, Brooklyn accent and all, as Khrushchev. Is your appetite whetted? Well, it should be.

One line zingers are ever present. There is physical slapstick.

The ensemble cast is marvelous, portraying all your faves from that poli sci class in Soviet history. Beria. Molotov. Malenkov, Field Marshall Zhukov.

“The Death of Stalin” is wise. It is insightful. And it’s a hoot.

For more, listen up:

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“Unsane”: Film Review and Podcast

Posted: March 23rd, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I had never heard of this film until the morning it opened in my town.

I read up a bit, and what got me to the theater, frankly, was learning that director Steven Soderbergh shot this himself entirely on an iPhone 7.

The parameters of which new fangled process added an eery quality to this excellent little film.

Claire Foy plays an intelligent young woman, who has moved to a new town because she was being stalked.

The pivotal question is whether that is actually happening, or whether she is simply hallucinating it?

She ends up unwittingly locked in a mental health facility after going to talk with somebody about what’s going on with her?

The stalker, it turns out, is an attendant at the facility?

Or, is she just imagining that?

This psychological drama is cleverly drawn up and adroitly presented.

For more, listen up:


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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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“Red Sparrow”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: March 4th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

In my neck of the woods, her hometown, the release of Jennifer Lawrence’s latest film is always a thing.

Her recent efforts in some truly mediocre cinematic concoctions have been the only thing worth considering.

But there’s always hope, right?

In her latest, “Red Sparrow,” she plays an intense, revenge-minded former member of the Bolshoi  Ballet, who suffers a career ending injury and is then coerced into becoming an undercover operative for the government by her uncle.

Ms. Lawrence’s ever present acting chops are the only thing worthwhile in this otherwise convoluted, too often vicious, occasionally sensual, ever mediocre offering.

Is watching Ms. Jen work her thespianic magic enough for you to head to the movie house?

It was for me.

You’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

For a more in depth consideration, including a startling revelation of what Ms. Lawrence’s character and your truly share in common, listen below:

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“Game Night”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: February 24th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

One of my guilty pleasure movies from the past is “The Game,” in which Michael Douglas plays a bored, rich fellow who gets involved with, well, this game, where he’s dropped into then trapped in an adventure/mystery with peril to his personal well being.

What’s real? What isn’t? Are these real bad guys? Or just actors that are part of the charade?

It’s a compelling cinematic premise.

So, when I saw the preview for “Game Night,” featuring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, with that general sort of plotline but played for laughs, I was all in.

The two leads, along with Jesse Plemons, who plays their eery, somewhat unhinged neighbor, work to make this thing work.

There are laughs. There is some intrigue. There are, of course, twists and turns, so the audience will be forced to wonder what’s real and what’s a ruse, as part of the scenario where one of their weekly game night crew of friends gets kidnapped?

For the life of me, I don’t understand why McAdams doesn’t get more work? She has the facility for comedy, which shows up here in what’s an ultimately thinner than one would like plot.

This could have been better with a shade more inventiveness and creativity.

But “Game Night” is a pleasant popcorn diversion, and hardly a waste of time.

Any laughs we can get in these troubled times is a good thing.

For more, listen up:

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“Mudbound”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: February 16th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 1 Comment »

Crafting a movie that is both vast in scope and an intimate portrayal of genuine human interaction is always difficult.

But when it’s done right, it’s a joyous cinematic experience, even if the subject matter is not the easiest to digest.

Dee Rees has accomplished something special with “Mudbound,” which is set in the Mississippi Delta just after WWII, and focuses on the interaction of two families — one black, one white — with each other and with society.

It is gorgeous to view. It is entrancing to contemplate.

The ensemble cast, led by Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund, is pitch perfect. Both in the portrayals, and the interaction of the characters.

This movie has generated hardly a glance during the awards season.

I am stunned frankly. It is, one fellow’s opinion, the best film released in 2017. It’s available for viewing on Netflix.

For a more detailed look at the film, listen below:

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Forgotten Film Gems & Performances from 2017

Posted: February 8th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It’s movie awards season, and, as always, the buzz has narrowed down to a few movies and screen acting performances.

As usual, it’s not fair, really, is it?

“Best” is subjective, though most all of this year’s winners so far and nominees for the Oscars are worthy.

But in my little podcast today, I remind one and all of some movies you may missed, or never heard of at all. As well as of some great acting performances that didn’t get nominated.

Including what I think is the best performance by a male actor, a portrayal that has garnered nary a mention at the awards shows.

But you’ll have to listen up to find out who it is and what the movie is?

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