Radio Dreams, Immigrant Dreams, A Movie for Our Times

The plot of Radio Dreams is simple enough. A Farsi language radio station in San Francisco has made a booking coup, well beyond its normal range. They're bringing the heavy metal band Metallica to jam with Kabul Dreams, an Afghani rock band.The story turns on that single day as the hours extend on and Metallica does not show up.It captures perfectly an immigrant community filled with hopes and constraints, and perhaps living more into the constraints.But, Radio Dreams is also a … [Read more...]

Wonder Woman: A Film for Our Times

Jan and I went to see Wonder Woman Sunday afternoon. Because of the buzz, and the opening weekend rush, we pre-purchased tickets at one of the new crop of theaters featuring barcaloungers, and, critically, assigned seating.As we settled into the clips announcing forthcoming films especially curated to accompany the film, I began to feel slightly anxious. Lots and lots of things blowing up. Which, hey, I'm a guy, I do like. But, often blowing things up becomes a substitute for, you know, a … [Read more...]

Enter the Mouse

It was on this day in 1928 that Walt Disney Studios showed Plane Crazy, a single reel silent cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse. However the Mouse failed to pick up a distributer. Later that year Disney tried again with Steamboat Willie to wild success.So, while this is actually Mickey's birthday (In case the math is difficult he turned 89 today.), this particular film wasn't seen until the next year as the fourth of the now voluminous adventures of Mickey Mouse. … [Read more...]

The Short Review: We Saw “Their Finest.” We Liked It. You Might, as Well.

Jan and I took off for our regular weekly movie and a dinner this past Sunday. Our desired weekly rhythm had been interrupted by various events. And, also, one or two of the films we saw most recently didn't fit for my review standards (I either can say something positive, or I don't write about it), so thanks to that perfect storm it's been a while since I've been able to share our reaction to a movie.And then this Sunday we saw Their Finest.I found it a delightful contemporary take on … [Read more...]

That’s Entertainment: My Reviews of the 2017 Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Award

Over the years Jan & I have said we'd love to go the movies more. But, the reality was we never did much. A big part of this was my work life as a Unitarian Universalist parish minister and with the erratic hours that parish ministry meant doing something regularly was difficult. And, we chose to guard the time for our Zen community rather than anything else.And time flows, and things change.Now, in the first year of retirement we have started doing things that we just couldn't put … [Read more...]

Bearing Witness: The Horror & the Glory of I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro is filmmaker Raoul Peck's imaginative recreation of James Baldwin's last book proposal, a thirty page treatment titled Remember This House. Mr Baldwin hoped to explore American's heart, and particularly the destructive nature of racism through the lives and deaths of three men he personally knew, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.Raoul Peck delivers.Owen Gleiberman, writing at Variety, tells us Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro is the rare movie that … [Read more...]

We Went to See Moonlight: And I Give it a Reluctant, but strong Recommendation.

Yesterday Jan and I followed our almost regular program of going to a late matinee and then to dinner.We'd feared we were going to miss Moonlight, but I think because of Oscar buzz it has had a second life. And, so, we were able to get to the theater while it is still making the rounds as first run.If you google "moonlight" and "review" you will see it is wildly popular among the professional reviewers. My google search has A. O. Scott from the New York Times telling us "Perhaps the most … [Read more...]

Building Fences, Tearing Down Fences: A Review of the Movie Fences

Sometimes the timing is just perfect. For me yesterday morning I preached a sermon at the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Canoga Park, California on the book of Jonah. There I reflected on how we can, whoever we are, and whatever our limitations, live into something larger. In that case the story of a complete jerk being a prophet speaking true. Then, in the evening Jan and I went to see Fences.Now one of the reasons I'm hesitant to call my reflections on the movies we see "reviews" … [Read more...]

Finding Myself Thinking of “You Nazty Spy!” Can’t Imagine Why…

While Charlie Chaplain's Great Dictator was in the can, in fact the very first film in popular distribution in America to mock Adolf Hitler and his Nazi movement were, of course, the Three Stooges.Today in 1940 the Three Stooges' 44th short You Nazty Spy was released. As, I noted, best anyone knows, the first of what would become a bit of an industry.Don't know why I find myself thinking of Alec Baldwin... … [Read more...]

Our Fucking City: A Review of Patriots Day

My interest in going to see Patriots Day was a mixed bag. I don't have much of a taste for disaster films or their closely related. And I was, I admit, mildly put off by the idea of a "heartfelt tribute" or "inspiring story" as was said of Patriots Day. I like uplift as much as the next person, but I have a pretty deep aversion to treacle.On the other hand Jan and I spent a fraction shy of fifteen years in Eastern New England, half of that in Newton, an inner ring suburb of Boston, the … [Read more...]