“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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“Red Oaks”: Film Review Podcast Friday, Jun 19 2020 

 

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

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“Run”: Review & Podcast Thursday, Apr 16 2020 

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, for whom everything she touches these days turns to gold, is back at it.

This time as executive producer of a Sunday night HBO series, called “Run.”

Intriguing premise, here.

College sweeties move on with separate lives after graduation, but vow to reconnect and rendezvous immediately at a designated time and place, should one text “Run” to the other, with the same one word reply.

So Ruby and Billy abandon their current lives, and find themselves on an Amtrak heading west out of Grand Central Station.

The well-played, well-conceived opening episode sucked me in.

For more details, listen to the podcast below:

 

Run

“Somebody Feed Phil”: Film Review Podcast Sunday, Apr 12 2020 

This is the kind of gig I’d love to have.

Getting sent to major cities around the globe, hanging with the cool crowd, eating at the best restaurants, while cracking jokes.

Phil Rosenthal is the Man.

“Somebody Feed Phil” is the Netflix series, where we get to watch him live the life.

One of the episodes is his visit to New Orleans, which you may noticed is my favorite place to dine. And where I would be next week for JazzFest and feasting, but for you know what.

Anyway, listen to the podcast below for more on the show, and how I reacted when Phil was eating my favorite dish, Chicken a la Grande, at my favorite restaurant, Mosca’s.

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Battle of the Streaming Services: Which deserves your money? Thursday, Jan 23 2020 

 By Madelynn Bland —

It’s official. Cable and satellite subscriptions are becoming outdated and newer ways to access TV are gaining numbers.

There has been a sharp spike in the popularity of video streaming subscriptions, especially for students. Rather than paying about $100 or more a month for TV subscriptions, everyone is jumping ship to streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.

However, there’s much debate surrounding which streaming service is most worth your money. While there are some people who can afford a subscription to all of them, most people have the tough decision of picking a favorite to use. 

“These services reflect our changing media landscape. Streaming services are perfect for students: they have the agency and access to the media they want, often without commercials, that they desire,” Siobham Smith-Jones, a communications professor at the University of Louisville, said.

The Louisville Cardinal recently ran a Twitter poll to see which streaming service was the current star among students. The favorite: Netflix, followed by Disney+ and Hulu.

Netflix

Netflix made it to the top of the list with 66.1 percent of the votes. Despite being one of the first popular streaming services, Netflix has kept fresh content, nostalgic favorites and award-winning hits on its platform.

The popularity of many of the Netflix originals is enough alone to entice some people.

However, as more and more television brands are introducing their own streaming services, shows and movies are being removed. But never fear, Netflix has produced hits such as “Stranger Things” and “House of Cards.” A few even received Oscar nominations for this year’s Academy Awards. According to the New York Times, 24 of their original movies were on the 2020 ballot like “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman.” 

Disney+

Since its launch in November, Disney+ has quickly become a fan favorite especially for students as much of the content is nostalgic.

Besides childhood favorites, fans of the old animation style get to see old classic movies that have been locked away in the infamous Disney vault.

Also on the platform is all of the TV shows like “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Hannah Montana” and “That’s So Raven” which have been dearly missed by many college-aged kids. Disney+ is the only streaming service offering access to all of the Star Wars and Marvel movies, including spin-offs such as the popular “The Mandalorian,” which is a huge deal-maker for some people.  

Hulu & Prime Video

Hulu and Prime Video are other good options and may be the most cost-efficient for students. Arguably, Hulu has the best deal for college students.

On their website, the video subscription company is partnering with Spotify to allow students to combine Spotify Premium, Hulu and Showtime for just $4.99 a month. With Hulu, you also get access to award-winning Hulu Originals like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Act.”

Prime Video is another good contender, and is included with all Amazon Prime subscriptions. Therefore, if you have access to a Prime subscription, this streaming service comes at no additional cost. Along with titles like Oscar nominated “Lady Bird,” it also offers award-winning originals like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Late Night.”

Both of these streaming services seem to be the best for budget-savvy students because they are combined with additional services. 

Really, the streaming service chosen is down to individual preferences. What may meet the needs of one person might lack in the eyes of another.

The best research would be to take advantage of the free-trials of these services to truly see what would be the best option. However, Smith-Jones advises to be careful with subscribing to too many. “Just a word of caution: those subscriptions services can all add up.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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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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“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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“Fleabag”: Review & Podcast Friday, Aug 9 2019 

I stopped watching the first season of this most quirky and darkly comic British TV series after a couple of episodes.

To be honest, it just wasn’t working for me.

Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s main character whom she also portrays — no real name given, just Fleabag — struck me as too disagreeable and not a very nice person. Thus someone I didn’t feel like spending much time with.

But, so positive were the reviews for Season 2, I decided to give it another chance. It’s on Amazon Prime.

The first episode of the second go round is a perfect comedic depiction of every uncomfortable family dinner you’ve been to that blew apart because of underlying dysfunction, sibling rivalry, problems with in laws, mommy or daddy issues, parental discord or any and all of the above.

Loved it. It was too good. And the season just got better from there. Some of her redeeming social values come forth.

Waller-Bridge’s character pulls the audience in by breaking the fourth wall. She’s constantly turning her head to the camera and sharing intimacies just with us.

Often such affectations As talking to the audience can be off-putting. Here it only enhances what I will now admit is an idiosyncratic comedic gem to be savored.

Did I mention she has a tryst with a priest in a confessional?

For more perspective and detail, listen to the podcast below:

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