“The Night Manager”: Film Review Podcast Tuesday, Aug 11 2020 

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 Sunday, Aug 2 2020 

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 Wednesday, Jul 29 2020 

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 Monday, Jul 20 2020 

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 Monday, Jul 13 2020 

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 Monday, Jul 6 2020 

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

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“Irresistible”: Film Review Podcast Friday, Jul 3 2020 

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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“Okja”: Film Review Podcast Thursday, Jun 25 2020 

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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“Da 5 Bloods”: Film Review Podcast Saturday, Jun 13 2020 

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 Wednesday, Jun 3 2020 

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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