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…

Review: “Unorthodox”, the mini-series

After finishing Netflix’s powerful four part mini series Unorthodox, I waited a few days to gather my thoughts and impressions on both the overwhelming strengths of this series, as well as a few troubling undercurrents.  Unorthodox told the story of 19 year old Jewish Esty Shapiro (Shira Haas) and her flight from her arranged marriage…

Review: “The Plot Against America”, the complete series

It would be ideal if prior to viewing HBO’s six part adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 alternate history The Plot Against America, viewers had read the best selling novel. However, given our current political reality, some may say that the possibility of a hypothetical take over of the American presidency by a menacing anti democratic…

Review: “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness “

With the entire country under shelter-in-place for the past month, an edgy, stir-crazy nation has been desperate for new shows that could help take the edge off of the possibility of mass societal extinction. So, it is not unusual that a show such as Tiger King, a seven part Netflix reality show/documentary would capture a…

Review: “Anne with an E”, the complete series

The ongoing television challenge in our house is: What show can my wife and I enjoy together? This is especially critical question during this unprecedented Corona Virus mandate that has forced all of us to shelter-in-place for an extended undefined period of time. Admittedly, when left to my own devices, I often gravitate to shows…