Culture Maven review: “Palm Springs” Monday, Jul 13 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

How many times have we heard it? How many times have I said it?

Ya know, they just don’t make many romantic comedies like they used to.

So, as an exception to that premise, welcome to “Palm Springs,” now on Hulu.

Andy Samberg’s somewhat depressive character meets Cristin Miloti’s somewhat depressive character at her sister’s wedding reception, when he’s wearing his swim shorts and Hawaiian shirt, while everybody else is formally attired.

He woos her. She falls prey. Then, by accident, falls into the reality of his Groundhog Day existence.

But, given how well and cleverly this film is written, and how those two play it out, with help from J.K. Simmons in a supporting role, it doesn’t seem old, or stale, or that off the charts far-fetched.

Though the premise is, you know, far-fetched by definition.

For more information on this engaging rom com, listen to the podcast above.

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The post Culture Maven review: “Palm Springs” appeared first on 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville.

Culture Maven review: “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” Monday, Jul 6 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

Most Americans have little knowledge of the phenomenon that is the annual Eurovision Song Contest, where performers from the various countries compete annually for fame and fortune in front of, oh, a couple hundred million viewers.

Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) are lifelong friends in a small Icelandic fishing village, and singing partners in Fire Saga.

Though not very good, they make it to the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Scotland.

I shan’t spoil it by saying how they get there. Though, truth be told, the plot here is nothing new or special.

Which matters not, because the point is mindless diversion and the kind of cheap laughs Ferrell, when he’s on, can deliver. While he’s not at the top of his game here, he and the Netflix film are funny enough, and McAdams gamely hangs on.

Plus there are lots of lavish musical numbers.

For more details, listen to the podcast above.

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Culture Maven review: “Irresistible” Wednesday, Jul 1 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

The set up here is a bit absurd, but certainly worthy on its face of turning into a comedy.

Steve Carrell is national political operative, Gary Zimmer, devastated by Clinton’s loss in ’16. So he’s looking for a race somewhere in America that can restore his reputation, as well as that of his party.

He thinks he’s found one, a possible mayor’s race in rural Wisconsin. Where he journeys to convince a Marine vet — Chris Cooper — to challenge for the position. Which he does.

Soon enough, Gary’s arch nemesis, played by Rose Byrne, comes to town to support the incumbent.

Like I said, a legit set up.

There are some laughs — Operative word: some — but the execution of the scenario all seemed a bit ham-handed.

For the details, listen to the podcast above.

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Culture Maven review: “Okja” Thursday, Jun 25 2020 

Film Review and podcast by c d kaplan

Sometimes you get more than you bargained for when watching a film.

Given our peculiar and perilous times, I was in need of something soft and cuddly. An escape.

So I got around to watching the heralded Bong Joon Ho’s tale of a young girl and her large pet pig. It was released to much acclaim in 2017.

What appeared was frankly a good deal more than a bucolic and tender children’s fable.

Corporate greed. Do-gooders who will go to any means to achieve their ends.

Several most disagreeable characters, portrayed by Tilda Swinton — she plays twins — and Paul Dano.

There is indeed sweet. But there’s also dark and foreboding. For me, a certain discombobulation ensued while watching.

For more specifics, listen to the podcast above.

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The post Culture Maven review: “Okja” appeared first on 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville.

Culture Maven review: “Red Oaks” Friday, Jun 19 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

Sometimes you just want to get away from real life — like, oh, now — and settle in with something that feels familiar and entertains.

And is as comfortable as those ratty old slippers you put on at night, and know you need to throw away and replace, but just can’t yet.

So, I was delighted to be directed to a 26 episode Amazon TV series from a few years back called “Red Oaks.”

It’s set in the 80s in a mid-scale country club. But it’s really about the engaging characters who either belong there or work there.

Warning: There is absolutely nothing groundbreaking about what happens here. Just people living their lives.

It’s funny. It’s poignant. It’s often silly. But in every episode there at least one moment, or more, that resonates with truth.

I was really smitten with this series, as unassuming as it is.

For significantly more details about “Red Oaks,” listen to the podcast above.

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The post Culture Maven review: “Red Oaks” appeared first on 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville.

Culture Maven review: “Da 5 Bloods” Monday, Jun 15 2020 

Film Review and podcast by c d kaplan

Though he is both loved and loathed, director Spike Lee’s movies have evolved into event releases.

Given the culture shift in our land, none more so, it would seem, than his latest on Netflix, “Da 5 Bloods.” I feel compelled to ask, has the world moved toward Lee’s long held, strident perspective?

Featuring a career performance by Delroy Lindo, the movie on its face is about four comrades who served together, returning to Vietnam for a couple reasons. To bring back the bones of their leader. And to find a cache of gold bars.

But its focus turns out to be much broader than that.

Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Jonathon Majors, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Chadwick Boseman are also featured.

For significantly more details about the film, and my take, listen to the podcast above.

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The post Culture Maven review: “Da 5 Bloods” appeared first on 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville.

Culture Maven review: “The Vast of Night” Thursday, Jun 4 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

This is the kind of flick I grew up loving in the 50s.

Small town America, under the possible threat of aliens from outer space.

Except that this debut effort from director Andrew Patterson is supremely well crafted, elegantly written, fabulously shot, acted with panache, and easily my favorite film of the year so far.

The centerpieces are Faye Crocker (Sierra McCormick), who has an interest in future science, and works at the town switchboard at night. Her pal is Everett Sloan (Jay Horowitz), also bright, also inquisitive about strange things, and he’s the night DJ at the radio station.

All but a handful of town citizens are at a HS basketball game, when Faye hears this eerie sound, and shares it with her pal.

Aliens?

I won’t ruin the fun of this engaging movie.

For more details, listen to the podcast above.

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The post Culture Maven review: “The Vast of Night” appeared first on 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville.

Culture Maven review: “Sorry We Missed You” Tuesday, May 26 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

The gig economy, like many employment situations through the ages, has proven not to be all it’s cracked up to be for many.

In this searing, but way more subtle than it might be British film, Abbey and Rick are struggling to make it.

He takes on a job, delivering parcels, for which he needs to buy a new truck. Which means they have to sell Abbey’s car, which she was using to get around for her job as an in home caregiver.

The struggles continue and mount. Including their relationships with daughter and son.

This is not an easy movie. In some regards, there’s an invevitability to it.

But director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty have deftly avoided much of the obvious, and presented the tale with significant nuance.

It is available for streaming through the website of Baxter Theater, village8.com.

For more details, listen to the podcast above.

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The post Culture Maven review: “Sorry We Missed You” appeared first on 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville.

Culture Maven review: “Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics” Friday, May 15 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

Having lived through and surviving the counter culture, and being experienced, in the Hendrixian sense, I was intrigued and entertained and often bemused by this new Netflix documentary, “Have a Good Trip Adventures in Psychedelics.”

In which, any number of famous folks — entertainers. comedians, musicians, actors — talks about their experiences while tripping.

There’s the Good. The Bad. And the Spiritual.

There’s also some discussion by members of the medical community of the possible therapeutic value of such drugs.

And some warning videos from back in the day about how dangerous drugs can be.

Like I said at the top, my interest held, but I’m just not sure what the real purpose of the movie is?

For further explanation, and, frankly, some personal revelations, listen to the podcast above.

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Culture Maven review: “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind” Sunday, May 10 2020 

Film review and podcast by c d kaplan

There certainly was a lingering sadness in the life of mid 20th C Hollywood star Natalie Wood.

But, what may be even more sad is that she’s remembered more for the manner of her untimely death, than for her acting and goodness. Or what a doting mother she was.

She was a strong woman, but had her insecurities. Like most all human beings. That, of course, played out in public, given the nature of her high profile film career.

As a teen in the 60s, I frankly was smitten, as I discuss in my review. And would have liked this HBO documentary to spend less time on the manner of her drowning off Catalina Island, and more about her as a person.

That plaint notwithstanding, there’s plenty enough here to recommend the movie.

For more details, listen to the podcast above.

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