Stream-a-palooza

So I’ve spent the last week trying to emulate all the cool kids by binge-watching a bunch of series I’ve been reading about but haven’t had the chance to stream. Here’s my short take on them all: Special – Netflix Give credit to creator/writer/star Ryan O’Connell for developing this series which is an autobiographically-based take…

Review – “Supercool”

Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a shy, nerdy high school senior secretly pines for the “popular” girl at his school and makes a fool of himself (well, he throws up on her) when he tries to talk to her. Ok, how about this one – a shy, nerdy high school senior tries…

Review – “Strawberry Mansion”

I’ve been attending/covering the SFFILM Festival for another web site since 2009. I thoroughly enjoyed spending weekends in the city hopping from venue to venue to catch a variety of narrative, documentary, and short films from around the world. Well, THAT isn’t happening. Like everyone else, they’ve turned mostly to streaming. Here’s my look at…

Review: “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal”

Netflix’s Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal is an odd film. It’s part documentary, part docu-drama, and all absolutely infuriating. Director Chris Smith uses interviews and dramatic recreations to tell the story of the great College Admissions Scandal of 2019 in which elite members of the business, law, and entertainment communities (including residents of…

Review: “Soul”

Soul is a beautiful film of incredible depth, more depth than we’ve become used to from animated films – even Pixar’s. Gorgeously animated, wonderfully voiced (with contributions from some recognizable Bay Area theatre talent), and vibrantly scored, I think it would have been the least financially successful Pixar film to date had it been released…

Review: “Mank”

If you come to David Fincher’s Mank seeking a definitive answer to the question of who really wrote Citizen Kane you are likely to find yourself disappointed. The question, first raised by film critic Pauline Kael in a 1971 essay, has hung out there in the cinema atmosphere for decades. Kael’s conclusion that it was…

Review: “Run”

You’ve got to be of a certain age or a cinephile to understand the term “B” movie. Originally used to identify the second feature on a double-bill (the first being the “A” movie), some studios maintained “A” and “B” production units, while other studios – like Monogram and Republic – produced nothing but low-budget features…

Review: “Hillbilly Elegy”

When J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy was published in 2016, there was some controversy as to whether Vance’s take on Appalachian culture as embodied by his family was truly representative. Others latched on to Vance’s memoir as a guide to understanding red state politics and the rise of Trump.   The Ron Howard-directed film adaptation,…

Review: “Uncle Frank”

It’s been a while since a movie has ripped out my heart out and repeatedly stomped it into the ground while still giving me a sense of hope. Such a film is Alan Ball’s Uncle Frank, available now on Amazon Prime. Part family drama, part road-trip movie, part coming-of-age story, and part coming-out-late-in-life tale, it’s…

Review: “Bad Education”

As a retired school administrator, I knew the story of disgraced New York School Superintendent Frank Tassone, who, along with his Chief Business Officer Pam Gluckin, was found guilty of the largest public school embezzlement in American history. However, as I got set to watch Bad Education on HBO, I groaned when I saw that…