Film Review Podcast: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

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

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is an adulatory documentary about Fred Rogers, a surprisingly controversial TV star.

His long running children’s show on public television, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” was mostly revered, but also reviled by some.

He was obviously a decent man, well intentioned, worthy of high esteem.

He was generally well loved, though, I’m advised there are children now adults, who would have been his target audience in the 60s and 70s, who were put off by his manner.

Frankly, his career and show passed me by, given my age and that I had no children who would have been around during his heyday. So, I found this movie quite illuminating, and certainly touching at times.

I also consider it hagiography. The film touches on a couple of issues, Rogers’ beliefs, which might, if fully explored, have tempered somewhat his almost saint-like reputation.

The filmmakers instead decided to display almost abject adulation. Which may be deserved, but maybe not.

For more:

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“Ocean’s 8”: Film Review & Podcast

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

Even though they tend to follow a well set plotline, I cherish the well done caper flick.

So, even though I’d seen the trailer for this female-centric reboot of the Ocean’s franchise so many times it felt this morning when it had actually arrived like I’d already seen the flick, I checked it out.

It met all the requirements of the genre, and did so in a glossy, summertime popcorn movie sort of way.

Which was just all right with me.

Of all the stars — Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna and  Awkwafina — it was Ms. Hathaway as a too full of herself famous person who came with the most game. Though all were fine.

Spoiler alert: The ladies get away with the jewels.

Imagine our surprise.

The fun is in the getting there.

For more, listen up:

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“Mystery Train”: Rock & Roll RePast

Posted: June 7th, 2018 | Filed under: Music, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

If contemplating the origins of rock & roll, the music that delivered a haymaker to Eisenhower’s America in the mid 50s, one can never stray too far from Elvis.

Soon enough after Dewey Phillips big reveal on WHBQ560, and his forsaking of that job at Crown Electric, the undisputed King of Rock & Roll was leading the charge around the globe, where back-beated shots to the solar plexus jolted pop culture for the good and the forever.

The airwaves were freed at last. In rushed Little Richard, shouting rockers about the trannies of rural Ga., Lieber and Stoller acolytes with tales of unsoiled young lasses with yellow ribbons in their hair, and the Killer with balls aflame. No longer just “race music” as it was then dubbed, the real stuff raced over from the WLOUs on the edges of the dial into pure, unadultered, transistorized WAKYness.

It was more than a bit prescient that the impresario of 706 Union Ave 38103, Sun Studio’s major-domo Sam Phillips — no blood relation to DJ Dewey — was adamant that the young Mr. Presley cover Junior Parker’s enigmatic “Mystery Train” not long before the boss man sold E’s contract to RCA for pocket change. Read the rest of this entry »

“Killing Eve”: A Review & Podcast

Posted: June 1st, 2018 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

So I ran into my friend Jane last week, who advised her latest TV obsession was the BBC America series, “Killing Eve.”

Which struck me, because in the few days before I’d run across a number of reviews online, all of which were of one mind with praise.

Then, a few days later, I happened to run into some other pals, Mike and Wendy, film and TV buffs with good taste. When I asked if they’d watched “Killing Eve,” they immediately came with the compliments.

So I went home and streamed the first episode of the eight part series that has completed its first season cable run. Hooked, I watched another. Being somewhat compulsive, then another.

Consumed two more the following rainy afternoon. Then the final three episodes that night. Love when something like this lures me into the power binge.

Sandra Oh portrays a British MI5 agent obsessed with female serial killers. Jodie Comer plays a contract killer for a secret international cabal. Or, so we’re led to believe.

Hunter vs. the Hunted. And then the vice versa.

Obviously I was and remain fascinated — there will be a Season 2.

For more details, listen below:

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“Deadpool 2”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: May 25th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Is there any need for one of my lengthy and verbose written contemplations of this comic book super hero “satire”?

Uh, no, not really.

Should I at least give you a clue, some evidence perhaps, whether it is as good as, less than or better than the original?

Uh, no, not really.

I’ll leave the parsing to the those who idled away too much of their misspent youth at the Great Escape.

I found this moderately entertaining, but would have preferred more satire and less boilerplate comic book violence cinema stuff.

(And, you might wonder if I noticed that the poster I downloaded for the visual here is in a foreign tongue? Yes, I did, but, uh, so what.)

Here’s more:

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“Disobedience”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: May 18th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

At a turning point in the film, “Disobedience,” there is a long, telling tracking shot of Ronit (Rachel Weisz), who has returned to London from NYC for her father the rabbi’s funeral, and childhood friend Esti (Rachel McAdams) walking down the street, getting reconnected.

Ronit has escaped or been pushed away from the orthodox Jewish community in which she grew up, and she wears no wig, as social mores would dictate for the women there. She nonchalantly, at a key moment in the dialog, combs her fingers through her hair.

It is oh so subtly evocative.

There are many such touches in this elegiac, somber contemplation.

We have just learned that Ronit and Esti were lovers, and that Esti is married to the third member of their childhood trio, Dovid, (Alessandro Nivola).

This is mature cinema, the contemplation of passion and emotion in an insulated community.

It’s excellently played. And, as with all good films, all good art really, asks way more questions than it answers.

For more detail and discussion of “Disobedience,” listen below:

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“Chappaquiddick”: A Film Review

Posted: May 14th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema | No Comments »

Those who were around and of age, members of my generation, the War Baby Generation, at least many of us, remain fascinated with the phenomenon that was the Kennedy’s, such a unique political force it became.

JFK was the first media age superstar president. His assassination in November ’63 is our “I remember exactly where I was” moment, more so even than 9/11.

Then there was brother Bobby’s ascension. And his assassination.

Then came the rise of last brother standing Teddy, insecure but haughty, a reluctant scion of the family. The machine was in place for him to seek the White House.

Then came Chappaquiddick. It’s the island off Martha’s Vineyard, where Kennedy, drunk, drove a car off a bridge after leaving a summertime celebration, killing the only passenger, a young woman, a former aide of brother Bobby’s, Mary Jo Kopechne. Read the rest of this entry »

“Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: May 11th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

I was really bummed when I missed this true story of a late in life romance of 50s film noir femme fatale Gloria Grahame and Peter Turner, an actor 30 years younger than her. It was gone from the theater in a blink of the eye in my town.

I wanted to see it, because, for one, it stars Annette Bening, who is always great.

And, because it’s a movie about movies, at least peripherally. And movie stars.

And it came well reviewed.

Well, I caught up with it last evening on the Amazon, and am glad I did.

It’s simply a well made, lushly shot, superbly acted tale that compels.

For more info, listen up:

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“Love After Love”: A Film Review

Posted: May 10th, 2018 | Filed under: Cinema | 1 Comment »

It’s a coy beginning to Russell Harbaugh’s “Love After Love.”

Perched in a window alcove, coffee cup in hand, brow furrowed, yet posed like a Land’s End advert, is Suzanne, an ever radiant Andie McDowell.

She is in conversation with Nicholas, Chris O’Dowd.

The subject is happiness. The nature of their relationship is uncertain.

He mumbles something like, sure I’m happy but we’ve just had this tiff. She projects concern and parries.

The immediate wonder is the nature of their connection?

Which we find out as the scene ends. Read the rest of this entry »

“Tully”: Film Review & Podcast

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

There are times when films deserve to be made, should be made, even if the subject matter is disturbing to many, even most. Even if the end product, no matter how well crafted, is not “entertaining” in the classic sense of the descriptor.

The new Diablo Cody-penned film starring Charlize Theron, is just such an endeavor.

“Tully” addresses a real life, every day, all too common issue; one I dare say I’ve never seen depicted realistically on the screen before.

Postpartum depression.

This movie is not a frolic. It has frankly caused some consternation among those who are intent in treating this very real issue.

It is not a comfortable film to watch.

But it is worthy, if only for peeling away some of the mystery and denial prevalent about this issue, which folks generally are loathe to recognize or even talk about.

For more on this thought movie, listen up:

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JazzFest Day 3: Dirty Notes & a Gulp of Chocolate Milk

Posted: May 1st, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

My apologies for the lateness of these musings on the first weekend’s final day. Sleep deprivation and the exigencies of being beamed back from that other universe to real life are my excuses. Sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused.

Truth is not every day at JazzFest is magical. Sometimes just being there, with a few musical moments here and there through the day, has to suffice.

For me, Sunday was that type of day. Not that there wasn’t a lot of incredible music being offered, it’s just that I never fired. My sleep schedule was way off. I was never able to hook up with my peeps as our texts crossed. Etc, etc.

That said, the worst day at JazzFest is better than any day in real life, but for a few exceptions. Those days when your granddaughter runs up and hugs you. When the Cards beating the Cats in any sport. And, well, that’s about it. JF beats the rest.

 * * * * *

Aaaaaaaaaand, after essentially ignoring their annual set for decades, I caught Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes on the big stage to start the day.

Several years back, I caught their last song, which was smokin’, and made a mental note not to miss them again. Which, of course, I forgot until Sunday, when I was reminded of their supreme chops as they were soundchecking as I entered the Fest site. Read the rest of this entry »

JazzFest Day Deux: Sona, Hora, Aurora & Fats

Posted: April 29th, 2018 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

Though I didn’t realize it then, my affinity to New Orleans music dates back to my first 45s, which I listened to on a $19.95 record player I bought with my own earned money at Ben Snyder’s Department Store, and my second LP my grandparents bought me at a shop in Detroit.

I had more of Fats Domino’s Imperial singles than any other of the Founding Fathers. And that LP was also Fats. (The first was Little Richard, also a gift from Grandpa Max & Grandma Tillie.)

I guess I realized, even in junior high, that Fats was from New Orleans, but it wasn’t until years later that I discovered we share the same birthday.

I was fortunate to hear him back when, and several times at Fest, including his last gig of consequence here, what, ten years ago or so, when he played the big stage, reunited with long time collaborator Dave Bartholomew for the first time in decades. Read the rest of this entry »