“Punching the Clown”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 24th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Comedian Henry Phillips is tired of life on the road.

His pithy songs seem to fly over the heads of his audiences in the heartland.

He’s tired of sleeping in his car.

So he moves to L A, in search of the proverbial “fame and fortune.”

Which he might have found, had he not innocently asked the wannabe mogul at the record company where the delicious bagel came from?

This is a small, independent, award-winning satire about the music biz and La La Land social scene from 2009. And it works.

Very clever.

Most pungent.

Most important: Funny.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

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“An Easy Girl”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 16th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

There is a continuing strain in French cinema of films that contemplate the obsession of men with young sensual women.

On its face, Rebecca Zlotowski’s new release, “An Easy Girl,” falls squarely within that genre.

To be sure, that element is present here.

But this movie is really the coming of age story of Naima (Mina Farid), who has just turned 16 and lives modestly with her mother, who is a maid at a tony hotel in Cannes. Naima intends to spend the summer, figuring out what she wishes to do in life.

She is visited by her very sexual, devil may care, 22 year old cousin, Sofia (Zahia Dehar), who soon takes up with a rich Brazilian with a big yacht. Naima tags along, and mostly observes. And starts the maturation process.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Night Manager”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 11th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

So, as such obsessions evolve, I find myself currently seeking out spy capers to fill the time during this, uh, pandemic.

I have two more episodes of “The Bureau” to watch, but must wait until they are revealed the next couple of Thursdays.

So I tracked down “The Night Manager,” a 2016 BBC six episode series from the pen of John Le Carré, available on Amazon Prime.

Tom Hiddleston has a career in the hospitality industry, until he’s drawn into international arms smuggling chicanery, after the mistress of the owner of a ritzy hotel where he’s working in Cairo, hands him some documents to copy.

He falls in with MI6 agent Olivia Coleman, who is obsessed with bringing down the bad guy, played with suitable arrogance by Hugh Laurie. Hiddleston goes deep cover, seeking to infiltrate the bad guy’s gang.

Intrigue ensues.

For more details about this addictive series, listen to my podcast below:

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“The Go-Go’s”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: August 2nd, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | No Comments »

History of Rock & Roll Band documentaries have a certain, very familiar story arc.

It seems to be a trend.

This Showtime take on The Go-Go’s is no different.

Other than the fact that they were the first all female band, who wrote their own songs, and played their own instruments, that made a #1 album.

So, yeah, anything else that makes this doc worth watching?

Other than why Jann Wenner’s kept them out of the Rock & Roll HoF?

Or, what’s the story behind those towels they’re wearing on the cover of their first album?

For more reasons, why you might enjoy this pro forma documentary as I did, listen to the podcast below.

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“Mel Brooks Make A Noise”: Film Review Podcasst

Posted: July 29th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

It was one of those days that come all too often in these cockamamie times.

I needed something familiar, comfortable, funny and sweet, to take me away from the present.

To see the film I was thinking of, I would have had to subscribe to yet another streaming service. And, I mean, enough is enough, right?

So, surfing about Amazon Prime I came upon this delightful documentary about one of America’s great all-time funnymen.

Among his many other successes — including how he won Anne Bancroft’s heart from the get go — Mel Brooks created two of, oh, the ten funniest films ever. Both of which were released in the same calendar year, 1974.

Plus, it’s not like “Blazing Saddles” and the even more brilliant “Young Frankenstein” were his only noteworthy accomplishments.

One of the reasons I cherish this documentary so much is that we learn more about Brooks as a human being. How intelligent and empowering to women he has been.

Then there’s all the great insider stories. Like his relationship with Alfred Hitchcock.

For more info, listen to the podcast below:

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“The Bureau”: Review & Podcast

Posted: July 20th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | 2 Comments »

OK, I’ll lay it out for you right from the get go.

If you are familiar with my tastes and work here, you know that I consider David Simon’s “The Wire” to be the best drama, any medium, ever crafted in the English language.

Hyperbole? Of course. But I believe it to be true.

I’ve never come close to accepting any successor as worthy of mention in the same breath.

Until now.

I’ve fallen prey to the elegant craft and intrigue of the French series, “The Bureau,” streaming at Sundance Now.

It’s centered around the people and work of the DGSE, the French equivalent of the CIA.

I’m totally addicted, and have consumed the first fifteen episodes of the five season series in the last three days.

For a more thorough explanation why “The Bureau: has my highest recommendation, listen to the podcast below:

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— c d kaplan


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“Palm Springs”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 13th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I’m certainly among the punditocracy who have oft wondered, more than a might dismissively, why don’t they make romantic comedies like they used to?

You know, where have you gone Annie Hall, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you?

So, when a flick comes along where the would be couple actually have some chemistry, where there’s even a smidge of uniqueness how the tale is told, when it’s, oh my heavens, funny . . . well, I fall prey to its charms.

As well we all should.

And it’s not like we don’t need some light fluff in these times.

All of which is to say, as if you couldn’t guess, that I really enjoyed this rom com, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Miloti, with supporting help from J.K. Simmons.

There’s a big plotline hook that will be familiar, but this sweet film works nonetheless.

So, hopefully I’ve lured you in without saying much at all about the movie. Listen to the podcast below to find out more.

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— c d  kaplan

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“Eurovision Song Contest – The Story of Fire Saga”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 6th, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: The Story of Fire Saga – Will Ferrell as Lars Erickssong, Rachel McAdams as Sigrit Ericksdottir. Credit Elizabeth Viggiano/NETFLIX © 2020

What the world needs now is bit more — a lot more, frankly — silliness.

Who better to turn to than Will Ferrell?

That’s right, nobody.

Here he is Lars, and along with lifetime friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), they are Fire Saga, a musical duo.

Though not that good, they make it from their small Icelandic fishing village to the finals of Europe’s biggest musical event.

I won’t spoil the plot, such as it is, by telling you how.

While not primo Ferrell, this grin of a Netflix flick arrives when a somewhat humorous diversion has become a necessity in these cockamamie times.

For more specifics, do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast below:

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— c d kaplan

You can now receive all my posts here directly in your email inbox. It’s free to subscribe. Just fill out the simple form below. 

“Irresistible”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: July 3rd, 2020 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Steve Carell. Rose Byrne. Chris Cooper.

Good actors all, attempting to work their craft here. Check.

Political operative tries to regain some reputation after a setback, set as a comedy in heartland America.

Alright, a reasonable premise. Check.

Jon Stewart writing and directing.

Well, that dude’s got some cred. Check.

So, yeah, bring it.

So, what happened?

For that you’ll have click on the link below, and listen.

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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

You can now subscribe to all my posts here. It’s free. Simply fill out the simple form below, and all will arrive in your email inbox.