“The Laundromat”: Film Review & Podcast Friday, Nov 8 2019 

Given how Hollywoodland works, it ever surprises me when a film such as “The Laundromat” gets made.

The movie is essentially about how billionaires and corporations, some legit, some not, hide money and assets by setting up shell companies, mostly in the Caribbean.

How is such a focus made palatable for the popcorn munching public?

Well, director Steven Soderbergh, working with a top shelf cast including Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, gives it a shot.

As an erstwhile comedy no less.

While the movie works occasionally, and is in parts truly funny, in the end it simply doesn’t coalesce. Despite the stellar talent on board. There’s an attempt to tell the tale through vignettes, which are only vaguely related to each other.

I didn’t hate the flick. Actually I found it mildly engaging.

I had a few chuckles, but in the end, didn’t understand the global financial market anymore than when I clicked start on Netflix.

For more details, listen to the podcast below.

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“Jojo Rabbit”: Film Review & Podcast Sunday, Nov 3 2019 

Taika Waititi’s offbeat film about a young boy in Germany in the waning days of the Third Reich has been getting a load of buzz.

The quirkiness of its politically incorrect premise — the boy’s imaginary confidant is the Fuhrer himself — has generated a curiosity.

This is a film I was really looking forward to seeing, and I caught it at its first showing in town.

This is a film I generally disliked, and found seriously wanting.

For more details and further observations, please listen to my podcasted review below:

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“The Lighthouse”: Film Review & Podcast Wednesday, Oct 30 2019 

The almost numbingly stark “The Lighthouse” answers the question, whether a dark, foreboding film with essentially two characters with issues who tend to a lighthouse on a desolate, otherwise uninhabited island, surrounded by roiling seas, whether such a movie in black & white on a square screen can be compelling?

(Miss Walston, my 9th grade English dominatrix, is spinning in her grave over that run on, undiagrammable sentence.)

Willem Dafoe is the lighthouse keeper in charge.

Robert Pattinson is his assistant.

They really don’t get along.

This is a grisly bit of cinema.

This is not for folks looking for popcorn entertainment.

For more specifics and my more in depth take on “The Lighthouse,” listen to the podcast below.

Unlike my usual shtick, it’s an actual serious review.

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“Zombieland Double Tap”: Review & Podcast Tuesday, Oct 22 2019 

We critics try to be objective.

At least the ones who are serious about the craft. And, despite my penchant for shtick and snark, I have standards and parameters and endeavor to give those paying attention a legitimate take on a movie.

But, that said, there are still prejudices of one sort or another that, just due to human nature, color one’s perspective.

It happened for a most personal reason with this sequel ten years after the original gang survived and blasted every member of the Walking Dead who crossed their paths. While cracking jokes and giving each other considerable grief.

It was fun, if essentially mindless entertainment.

So too the redux, with all the gang back. Emma and Woody and Abigail and, sigh, Jesse.

Does Bill Murray make an appearance? I’ll never tell.

To find out what my personal connection to the film is, and how that colored my perspective as the lights dimmed in the theater, you will need to listen below:

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“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice”: Review & Podcast Thursday, Oct 10 2019 

Upon full contemplation, there really has never been anybody quite like Linda Ronstadt in the rock & roll era.

Her truly transcendent voice.

Her personality.

Her intelligence.

Her many worthy collaborations.

And, yes, her looks. (So sue me if it bothers you that I’ve mentioned that.)

She has been plagued with Parkinson’s which cut her career short, but which disease she confronts with admirable perspective.

It’s all set out in this entertaining documentary.

For more details about Ms. Ronstadt and this film, listen to the podcast below:

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“Judy”: Film Review & Podcast Thursday, Oct 3 2019 

Playing a renowned figure on the screen is always dicey, because we the public know the person’s physical ticks, mannerisms, and at least their public personality.

Which is why, I suppose, when the actor gets it right, or close, they have a good chance to be in the hunt come award time.

Count Renée Zellweger in.

She is the ever beloved since childhood Judy Garland in “Judy.” The film is set in the last year of Garland’s life when decades of insecurity, lack of sleep, alcohol and pills have worn her down.

She’s off to London, where she remains a big star.

“Judy” is a sad film. Yet it’s compelling in that way we can’t take our eyes off our icons as they self destruct before our eyes.

For more details on the film and Zellweger’s performance, listen to the podcast below.

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PBS’s “Country Music”: Review & Podcast Friday, Sep 20 2019 

It would seem to me that to call Ken Burns an American treasure would be understatement.

The fellow has provided history and cultural perspective on any number of topics through the decades with his excellently crafted PBS documentaries.

The Vietnam War.

Jazz.

The Civil War.

To name but three.

He, along with c0-producer Dayton Duncan, have done it again.

This time the subject matter is the history and evolution and importance of Country Music.

It is 16 hours long, divided into 8 two-hour episodes. The first four aired last Sunday through Wednesday. The final four shall commence for four straight nights, starting this Sunday evening. The series can also be streamed through the middle of October at pbs.org.

It’s a brilliant piece of documentary filmmaking, and a must see for all music fans.

For more insight on the series, listen to the podcast below:

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“Filmworker”: Film Review & Podcast Wednesday, Sep 11 2019 

As a long time, inveterate lover of the cinema, I not only cherish the finish products — when the silver screen can be magical — but also peeks behind the scenes.

Few are the auteurs who are as intriguing as Stanley Kubrick.

What we get in this informative documentary is not only a gander at the creation of his last three films. But also a look at the intriguing relationship he had with his Man Friday, Leon Vitale.

An English actor on the rise, he gave up his in front of the camera activities in the mid 70s, after appearing prominently in “Barry Lyndon.”

After which he became Kubrick’s loyal, frankly subservient, do-it-all Gofer.

This documentary lays the whole thing bare.

A must watch — Netflix, Amazon Prime — for film aficionados.

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“Los Espookys”: Review & Podcast Tuesday, Aug 27 2019 

How often have I complained about the lack of comedic movies or TV series that are both unique and actually funny?

A lot. Too much probably.

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce those who aren’t aware of the sublime pleasures of “Los Espookys.”

Which is a six episode HBO series that centers on a quirky band of characters, who stage horror scenarios.

It is all too sublime and humorous.

Significantly more detail that should lure you into streaming this gem is provided in the podcast below. Even more than usual, it will be well worth your time to listen:

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“Blinded by the Light”: Film Review & Podcast Thursday, Aug 22 2019 

I am a prisoner of rock & roll.

Many have been the moments in my life that music has kept me calm, from first hearing the Volumes “I Love You” in the mid 50s to this very day when listening to the Tedeschi Trucks Band while doing stuff around the condo.

Too often the savage beast inside has roared.

But the Allman Brothers Band or Marvin Gaye or Carlos Santana or Van Morrison or Arlene Smith have been there to quell the angst.

So, it figures I’d be a sucker for a flick based on a true story about a Pakistani youth in England in the 80s, whose life is turned around for the better when he’s turned on to Bruce Springsteen.

The movie “Blinded by the Light” is cloying, full with treacle and trite sentimentality.

But it works, because it tells a true tale: A song, an album, a symphony, or simply resonant lyrics to a catching melody line can change one’s life. For the better.

For more details on the film, listen below:

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