Thursday, January 26, 2017

20th Century Women and Dependent's Day

                        Living (more or less) in the Material World

                                                    Reviews by Ken Burke

Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ insightful reviews.  Therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when you’re ready to be transported to … wherever we end up.  Please protect your eyes from the dazzling brilliance.
                              20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
In 1979 Santa Barbara, CA an older single mom faces difficulties raising her 15-year-old-son so she turns to her friends (a 30-something-woman photographer/boarder and a 17-year-old-girl, close companion of the son) for help, although none of it works out as intended; 
all the writing, characterization, acting, and sense of humanity in this film is absolutely marvelous.

As publicity stills go, this one's seemingly a bit flawed, but I purposely use it
because it's perfectly in character with the attitudes of this unusual film.
What Happens: In Santa Barbara, CA in 1979, 55-year-old Dorothea (Annette Bening) is beginning to feel inadequate in giving proper parental guidance to 15-year-old-son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), the result of a marriage long-gone-upon-the-rocks.  She has a job I never did get clarity on (except that she works at a drafting table in some sort of design firm), so with that and rent from a couple of boarders she’s able to maintain a huge, multi-story-house that was built in 1905 (constantly in a state of repair by one of the boarders, William [Billy Crudup]), where she’s at home much more than the boy (although he gets plenty of late-night-visits from long-time-but-still-just-17 [and you don’t know what I mean … yet] buddy, Julie [Elle Fanning]) or the other boarder, Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a photographer for a local newspaper but constantly challenging herself with projects such as shooting everything that happens to her in a day or cataloguing all of her various possessions (from shoes to underwear).  William’s a friendly guy but he's a bit overly-focused on his construction interests as opposed to other aspects of human interaction so Dorothea turns to Julie and Abbie for help in raising Jamie, although their responses don’t pan out as Mom had planned.  

 Julie usually climbs the outer scaffolding of the reconstruction to Jamie’s bedroom window, often sleeps with him (but no sex) because she wants to escape the confinement of her own single Mom (played by Alison Elliott as a psychotherapist who oddly forces her daughter into Mom-run-group-counseling-sessions, giving Julie the exact opposite of anything therapy’s supposed to deliver); she even fondles him a bit before pushing him away while telling him of her many sexual exploits (about half of which bore her, possibly because she’s yet to have an orgasm), although later on she admits she lies so we’re not sure how truly experienced she is, but Jamie would certainly like to be on her list of hot-blooded-conquests, despite the frustration of her insisting he’s just a very close friend.

 Abbie goes whole-hog-wild-feminist-educator, getting bedazzled-Jamie into a nightclub he’s too young to attend so he can understand adult desires, providing him with a wealth of literature and other insights about women and their needs (including a copy of the now-famous Our Bodies, Ourselves [produced by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, 1971], leading to Jamie getting beat up after trying to talk with one of his teenage “colleagues” about the need for clitoral stimulation after the guy brags about his [unlikely] sexual prowess)—which Dorothea must eventually complain is beyond what her son can comprehend at this stage in his life— while complicating things in the home by seducing all-too-willing-William (who admits he can’t handle the complexities of relationships very well but is willing to enjoy what we now call “benefits” [although for Abbie to be comfortable with it they have to play out a fantasy where he’s a photographer who seduces her as a model], who later offers such to Dorothea but she abruptly declines; he also tries to teach her to meditate which she derails by lighting up yet another cigarette).  Jamie finds himself in over his head with all this advice, deciding to buy a pregnancy-test-kit for Julie because one of her conquests, Tim (Finn Roberts), didn’t pull out when needed so she’s terrified of being pregnant (she’s not, then teaches Jamie a “cool cigarette walk” emphasizing “strength” in thanks, trying to help him be a stud for local girls) but then he ends up accompanying Abbie to a follow-up-clinic-appointment (she’s recovering from cervical cancer) where her biopsy is negative yet she now has an “incompetent cervix,” devastating her hopes of ever having children.

 Ultimately, Jamie’s totally overwhelmed by all that’s going on around him so he pushes his Mom to her limits by such things as running off to a club in L.A. (which, while a bit of a lark for a 15-year-old, isn’t really that far from home [about 95 miles]; in west Texas there are folks who’d easily drive farther than that for shopping and lunch in Fort Worth just to add some diversity to what’s not available to them in Abilene) without first telling her about it, later stealing her VW bug with Julie to head north looking for adventure in whatever comes their way (but they just get as far as San Luis Obispo, roughly another 95 miles) only to have that happy, spontaneous trip seem headed for immediate disaster (Jamie admits love for Julie [Abbie encouraged him to do so], she pushes him away, he hikes away from the motel where they’re staying) until Dorothea, Abbie, and William drive up (in his marvelously-restored-old-Chevy that looks a bit like a tank without a cannon), Jamie returns to the motel on his own, reconciles with Mom over his desire to focus on a parent-child-relationship with her, after which they’re all eventually back in Santa Barbara dancing in the house, hopefully ready for the next stages of their lives.  Each of these major characters has at some point been given a brief on-screen biography, with images from their lives and times (often some poignant black & white photos, along with appropriate newsreel-type-footage that gives us a solid grounding on the 
situations and troubled-motivations of each of them) which are then updated at the end with each character quickly pushing the story’s timeline into the future, past Dorothea’s death (from lung cancer in 1999; she admits her constant smoking is deadly but, sadly, also part of a lifestyle image she’d inherited long before the Surgeon General’s warning in 1964).  We get concise ending-explanations that Dorothea finally remarried before her death; Abbie married and successfully had 2 children, medical science be damned; William moved away to Sedona, AZ, married but divorced; Julie went to college at NYU, then she traveled to Paris, never had kids.  This all ends with a voiceover from Jamie about how he’d tried to explain his complicated grandmother to his own son but failed because this unique, individual woman was just too hard to reduce to words: 
throughout the story we’re amazed at how specific she is, seemingly ready to dismiss any of the social conventions she’s expected to follow—including offering obnoxious verbal banter to a cop who stops her for a minor traffic problem one night, resulting in Abbie and William having to bail her out of jail—but yet also hesitant to expose her so-much-younger-son to the harsh realities of adult life until she thinks he’s ready for it, as with her disgust at a large dinner party where Julie describes her 1st sexual encounter in detail and Abbie gets huffy over social niceties, eventually leading the whole group in a chant of “menstruation”.  Dorothea finally tells Jamie she just wants his life to be happier than hers has been, which has led her to decisions that he feels are arbitrarily-restricting.

So What? So far, Mike Mills is making a fine cinema-career out of recycling his own life, making his 1st significant impact with his 2nd filmic-feature, Beginners (2010), as Christopher Plummer took the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (at age 82, the oldest male for this award [the oldest Best Supporting Actress is Peggy Ashcroft in A Passage to India {David Lean, 1984} at 77 years]) playing a character based on Mills’ father who also came out as gay—at age 75, then died 5 years later—now giving us the wild-delights of 20th Century Women with the central presence of Dorothea based on his mother and the other primary female characters inspired by real women that he knew growing up (how much his own life is supposed to resemble Jamie he doesn’t note in an extended interview, the 3rd listing connected to this film in the Related Links section far below).  But, as with Fellini inserting experiences from his life into his work (especially with his masterpiece, [1963]), Mills fictionalizes his autobiographic elements enough so that they have appeal beyond his own inner circle, creating a collection of marvelously-unique-screen-people who can speak to a wide range of audience members.  I was thoroughly impressed, could find resonances with the doubts, fears, and unleashed-exuberances (when they’d finally emerge) of Jamie and William but also saw a serious explication of individuality in the females that I can’t truly understand as much, even as I empathize with them; however, my insightful wife, Nina, was overjoyed with the unique, humane, struggling-for-completion-personas of these women (as were Bening and Fanning, as stated in the aforementioned video far below, giving praise to Mills as director and screenwriter, finding truthful nuances that they could easily embrace as actors in this drama; so says Gerwig also, although she has to testify in another interview video below because she couldn’t attend the previous one cited).

 This film is filled with marvelous elements, such as the car that Dorothea’s husband left them after the divorce—a vehicle she really liked—spontaneously bursting into flames in a parking lot due to an electrical problem (then she invites the firemen who helped extinguish it over for one of her many large-group-dinners) or the little off-white VW bug that she replaces it with getting spray painted by punk-rock-activists advocating the assaultive-sounds of Black Flag vs. the “arty” punk presented by the Talking Heads, which Dorothea and William acknowledge they prefer after attempting a night at the local club where they don’t fit in any better than elsewhere in their current decade which seems to have completely left them behind—him as a reclusive hippie from Cleveland by way of northern CA, her as a 1924-born-woman shaped by the Depression and WW II (not unlike my own mother, who began her long life in 1920 but was not as willing to publically declare her own cluster of complexities as is Dorothea, but then my Mom always had my Dad to share her life from 1942 until 2005, leaving her only 3 more years to negotiate on her own), events merely abstractions to the others who share Dorothea's life, leaving her in a state I’d call “realistically cynical,” while Abbie—as a member of a generation falling between Dorothea and Jamie (him along with Julie)is characterized by her fascination with the (actual) group The Raincoats who offer passion without talent (her opinion, but I don’t disagree).

Bottom Line 
Final Comments: This is a fascinating study (shown in 4K-resolution-video at my screening, a pleasure to watch from a crystalline-cinematic-perspective) of a mother-son relationship where she can be furious with him for almost dying from playing a fainting game with his friends while he can chastise her for being “sad and alone” because she keeps herself apart from close relationships, possibly even with him, yet it also encompasses a much-wider-look at this long-ago-era when a big group of our characters find themselves watching President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 sobering "crisis of confidence" speech in which he talks against consumption as a “mistaken idea of freedom,” a call to rise to our better nature (something that most of the principals in this story have yet to be able to do) which actively resonates against our current President’s insistence on an “America first” policy of expectations about a resurgent economy, restored jobs, a "huge" triumph of New World capitalism that rejects the attempts of certain national leaders over the last near-half-century to be more globally-oriented, more environmentally-astute, more inclusive rather than protectionist in the multiple-interpretations of the “American dream” (one viewer in the film presciently notes that this speech will end Carter’s political career).  There are other references to those times in this film, especially from a wealth of books too extensive for me to have taken note of, with graphic identifications of authors and titles on-screen, along with short, pertinent voiceover quotes that add marvelous depth to what we see.

 You don’t have to be saturated in all of this depth of allusions offered to be able to fully appreciate 20th Century Women (although if you can catch some of the references you might have a jolly time exploring the books and the music), but you certainly can’t deny that, even if you don’t have full insights into this period (or might have forgotten—intentionally or not—much of what you lived through then, as is my case), you'll find a certain sense of a tangible-but-lost-era is coming alive again on screen here, intriguing and encouraging us to know more about it or even just fully appreciate this era as it rolls by in a compelling manner due to the brilliant acting, especially by Bening (a solid contender for Oscar’s Best Actress honor for me, even though she didn’t get the nomination; for that matter, I'd have put Fanning into the mix for Best Supporting Actress, though again the Academy felt otherwise*) but a success equally-apportioned to all of this stellar cast.  Critics-at-large have been supportive of this film with 90% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, an 83% average score at Metacritic (more details below in Related Links)—giving further support to my easy choice of a 4-of-5-stars-rating—although it hasn’t had much chance to build support at the box office yet (despite being in release for a month) as it’s just now gotten to 650 theaters, taking in a mere $2.3 million domestically (U.S.-Canada) so far, but it may become an attraction now after last weekend’s worldwide-success of the Women’s March against the regressive policies associated with Donald Trump in various cities.  (If you’ve got time and money for a double feature you might want to pair 20th Century Women with another story somewhat from that time [the early 1960s], the unknown-until-now-rendering of Black female mathematicians making a huge impact on the American space program shown in Hidden Figures [Theodore Melfi, 2016; review in our January 4, 2017 posting].)

*In Related Links you’ll find info on the Oscar nominations for 2016 films.  In the near future (after I’ve seen a couple more potential-worthies I haven’t gotten to yet to affirm my choices in various categories) I’ll post my usual listing-with-commentary, but I’ll note for now that on my potential lists of top 5 choices in 8 major categories I generally sync up on about 3 of 5 of the actual nominees.

 For my regular choice of a Musical Metaphor for 20th Century Women 
(my standard end-of-the review-tactic for giving a last look at what I’ve been discussing in the film under review but from the perspective of another art form) I’ve easily chosen to borrow something from its own soundtrack, “As Time Goes By” (written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931 for that year’s Broadway Musical, Everybody’s Welcome), used so very effectively in one of the 
5-star-worthy-all-time-classics, Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) but I’ll be a bit non-standard in not just using the song but also embedding it in clips from that eternally-magnificent-movie of yesteryear so we can all appreciate again the context it carries as sung by Sam (Dooley Wilson; however, the piano work for this singer/drummer/actor was dubbed in by Elliot Carpenter) in that story of the fateful re-meeting of former-lovers Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and Rick (Humphrey Bogart), which is a complex, melancholy, ultimately-sacrificial-situation that resonates so well into the complex, at-times-melancholy, often-wistful-lives of all the main characters in … Women, especially Dorothea who’s old enough to have known that movie and all it represents about lost love in its original 1940s context (although the others could just as likely have seen it on video or at a repertory theater well after its initial release, as I'd done several times by 1979).  To get all you need to recall—or learn, if you’ve never seen it—you’ll need to watch 2 clips, the 1st when Ilsa comes upon Sam in Rick’s Café Américain at https://, the 2nd later that night with Rick reminiscing about his dark past at (where you can also verify that the proper script line is “play it, Sam,” not “play it again, Sam” no matter how much Woody Allen might have confused the issue with his pun of a title to his 1972 movie of that name—screenplay by Allen, based on his 1969 Broadway play, but directed by Herbert Ross, one of the very few times Allen’s not directed his own scripts; note that the audio's a little lower in this clip than the previous one).
 Once again Two Guys have been asked by a director to review his independent movie so we willingly accept the offer via the following analysis with our great thanks for being recruited.
                 Dependence Day (Michael David Lynch, 2016)
In this romantic comedy an aspiring actor pushes the limits of his girlfriend’s patience by contributing little to their joint income with all of his hopes always getting sidetracked, as when he gets jobs with 2 different Hollywood producers but only to do babysitting rather than acting with the 2nd situation the beginning of many more difficulties to come for both of our lovers.
What Happens: We begin in a scene where Cam Shuer (Joe Burke [no relation to me that I know of]) and his girlfriend, Alice Rivera (Benita Robledo [just for the record, she’s also no relation to me, but it’d be nice if either of them ever wanted to invite me to a family reunion, given that most of my relatives are dead—once again, something I had nothing to do with]), are in the office of their tax accountant (Brian George), who agrees that with their $165,000 income last year (but $150,000 of it from Alice, who works for a fashion design house) they’d be much better off if she took him as a dependent, given that she supporting much of his life's activities (he does get occasional work as a children’s party clown, although he—living in L.A. of course—has aspirations of being a movie actor).  Cam’s taken aback by the suggestion but agrees for financial reasons.  His embarrassment is intensified when he attempts to pay for dinner with Alice and their married-couple-friends, Luke (David August) and Kaylee (Shannon Lucio), only to have his card declined, then after Luke pays they all walk out to see his expensive Mercedes (although Cam will, much later, get dessert at home via explicit 69 sex with Alice [this movie’s NR—not rated—but it’s definitely for an adult audience]).  Pushed to help with their finances Cam tries to get a $500 loan to his friend Josh (Josh Staman) repaid but all Josh can come up is $16 and items of “legal tender” (stamps and some videos).

 However, Josh’s minor role in the film biz is pressed into service to get Cam an interview with producer Renee (Ashley Dyke), even though the only job she offers is babysitting her young girls, Sophia (Ella Simone Tabu) and Stephanie (Mma-Syrai Alek) at her Beverly Hills home.  That works out, though, so she refers him to Hank (Todd Bridges) and Larry Wright (Charlie Hofheimer), a gay couple who also just need a babysitter, despite Cam’s confused attempt to audition.  In their case, they need a overnight sitter for son Charlie (Zachery Alexander Rice), an extremely cooperative kid who goes to bed on time, leaving Cam to fill his night by watching the movies he got from Josh.

 One's an old VHS called 
All Anal 5, which quickly gets Cam excited enough to start unzipping when the scene fades out.  All’s going well the next day when Alice comes to pick him up until he realizes he forgot to get his check.  When he knocks, Hank’s not going to pay because they found the lurid sex tape still in their machine (although Larry’s trying to a be a peacemaker, just to get rid of Cam).  When Cam returns to the car, he's forced to explain the whole awful thing to Alice who first berates him for his interest in such butt-based-activity (“That’s not what we do!”), then gets upset that she’s not sexually-satisfying enough for him (he retaliates 
by berating her for reading Fifty Shades of Grey [E.L. James, 2011], a not-helpful-response), finally storms back to the door to get the check (after all, Charlie was asleep, never saw the tape); that night at home she banishes Cam to the couch.  After all that, things really get bad because Alice manages to get Cam a receptionist job at her office (not that he’s very good at it) where her boss, Bette (Lisa Ann Walker), doesn’t care for Cam but starts sexually harassing him (rubbing her bare foot into his crotch), followed by the false charge he was harassing her (just because she can get away with it), leading to an attempted defense by Alice which gets both of them fired but poor Cam
can’t even leave their apartment (Alice has decided to throw him out) without having to spend the night after all as her bubbly-parents (Bertila Damas, Javier Ronceros) suddenly show up during a layover in L.A. on their way to Hawaii for their 2nd honeymoon.  Next day, Cam’s moved in with Josh (who’s not happy either, as his fragile film career’s in jeopardy because of his known 
connections to Cam), offering the advice to just pretend Alice is dead, then move on with his life.  Instead, Cam ends up at some club where during open mic time he pours out his heart (“What I hate most is how much I still fucking love her.”), then stumbles onto a job as a busboy at a bar/restaurant owned by Toni (Jules Willcox), whose sister, Kathryn (Erin Pineda), is a director so Cam gets a small bit part in her current film which he finally nails after a series of miscues over a mere 3-word-question.  As all of this wraps up, Alice gets a fashion design job at a better location (considerably less pay, though), she makes up with Cam after Josh sends her a video of Cam’s club monologue (which has a good number of insults about her, but they pale in comparison to his affection), they dine with Luke and Kaylee again, this time with Cam paying and our reunited-couple not accepting the offer of seeing their friends’ relationship-counselor, then we finish with the tax accountant where this time the previous year sees more parity in their income contributions (Cam’s getting some film work apparently) but it still works out better for her to claim him as a dependent which he’s now ready to happily accept.

So What? According to director/ co-screenwriter (with Josh Staman) Lynch, Dependent’s Day was put together for under $50,000, amazing considering the quality he came up with in this movie, which—although a bit sparse and meandering at times but not too much of a problem considering the easily-digestible 1:28:00 running time—offers a lot of unexpected plot twists (especially Bette’s hostile attitude toward Cam which she then turns into a nasty, unwarranted sexual-power-trip for no other reason than to show what a celebrity boss can get away with [Now where have I heard a similar story in the last few months?  I know this film was released way before that infamous Trump tape became public, but it does make for a most interesting coincidence here*—just as the return of Sleepy Hollow {on Fox TV of all places!} is now about a legion of demons being let loose in Washington, D.C.; who could ever have thought that such a set of grim “alternative facts” would become the norm?]) that ultimately prove to be quite humorous such as: Josh’s attempt to pay off a loan by dumping whatever items he can scrounge up into Cam’s hands as part of his debt settlement; the surprise appearance of Alice’s parents (although overnight is an odd layover from L.A. to Hawaii, just as their trip to a leper colony is an odd 2nd honeymoon) with Mom’s questioning of her daughter the next day about her sex life (she has concerns—as does Alice—about why Cam’s been so slow in proposing to her), giving her advice that men need to feel like heroes (even though Alice has chosen to end the relationship but she doesn’t want to ruin her parents’ trip with that somber revelation); and the abrupt end to Cam’s
audition for Hank and Larry, given that we’d been set up to believe they wanted to see him for an acting job.  What’s most satisfying, though, is that other Burke’s terrific performance; while he has support from the rest of the talented cast 
(especially Robledo), Joe essentially carries the whole project, is a joy to watch (as Cam blusters through everything while forced to bike around the vast landscape of L.A.), with the solid prospect of a more-widely-known-career (something I can also hope happens for filmmaker M.D. Lynch**).

*Another coincidence 
concerning me a bit, though, is the mild similarity of the characters of Cam here and in the ABC-TV hit comedy Modern Family where both of the Cams live in L.A. (Eric Stonestreet on TV), both have careers as clowns for children’s parties, and both tend to either fly off the handle or else attempt to cover up their mistakes through fabrications.  It’s no big deal, but unless there’s a solid reason on Lynch’s part to use this given name of Cam for his movie's lead I do wish he’d picked another one just to avoid “fake news” speculations such as I’m making here, possibly irritating Mr. Lynch when I could have discussed this directly with him but I’ve bugged him enough already with other emails about cast members so I’ll just leave him alone, letting him speak in the Comments box below if he cares to (including correcting any mistakes that I may have made in viewing what he’s created). 1/26/2017: Director Lynch did get back to me on this issue; his explanation of pure coincidence about Cam is now available in the aforementioned Comments box at the bottom of this posting.

**Here are links if you’d like to know more about Burke (an experienced filmmaker himself, in addition to his acting) or Lynch  (extensive credits in many aspects of production).  Additionally, you can go here for an interesting “behind the scenes” look (brief—7:00—active, pleasant to watch).

Bottom Line 
Final Comments: While you’ll find only a couple of reviews for Dependent’s Day in the "industry standard" RT or MC collectives there is (at my "press" time) 1 User Review as well as about a dozen other External Reviews within IMDb, with Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times saying “The loosely plotted story moves forward almost effortlessly” even though it “waffles on whether Cam is a no-good screw-up” as part of her overall-positive-analysis.  You can tell that I’m generally-positive as well (especially regarding Burke’s performance—you know, maybe he’s a relative after all so that I can claim to be in such a talented-gene-pool) with acknowledgement that the story does ramble around a bit at times, although it holds together well enough to get our pleasure-to-watch-lovers back together by the end.  Regarding a Musical Metaphor for Dependent’s Day I’m drawn to “Act Naturally,” not only because of Cam’s dream that “They’re gonna put me in the movies They’re gonna make a big star out of me” but also because as his situation evolves it’s seemingly clear that his only shot at “the big time” would be “a film about a man that’s sad and lonely And all I gotta do is act naturally.”  Neither Cam nor Dependent’s Day are likely to “win an Oscar”—although, given the occasional vagaries of Hollywood, “you can never tell”—but I will say that if enough people (including you, faithful readers) see Lynch’s movie that at least Joe Burke may someday get into a bigger-distributed-vehicle that’s “gonna make [him] a big star ‘Cause [he] can play [a] part so well.”

 So, I encourage you to visit the Dependent’s Day website (noted in the Related Links section just below) to see how you can acquire Lynch‘s work, well worth your time to see, cheap to rent, not that expensive to buy, and it's certified-embraceable by the attendees of my local Cinequest San Jose (CA) Film Festival where it took one of the top prizes, the Audience Favorite Choice Award for Narrative Feature: Comedy (truly, there are a lot of solid laughs in it, especially with Cam’s never-ending-unanticipated-situations).  Now I’ll shut up and get to the song (written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, originally recorded by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos as a big hit in 1963 [found on their 1964 Best of Buck Owens album]), where I’m partial to The Beatles’ version (from their 1965 Help! album in the U.K., 1966 Yesterday and Today album in the U.S.) at ?v=b5rpAqfd35Q, a live performance with date and location unknown to me; however, if you prefer Buck’s version here it is at (which is another live performance, but it starts instrumentally under a black screen so please don’t try to adjust your TV computing device; this one’s from 1966, at Carnegie Hall no less), given that he’s associated with his long-time-residence in Bakersfield, just 112 miles north of Cam and Alice’s L.A. on Hwy 99.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*We’re sorry to say that a Google software glitch causes every Two Guys in the Dark posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to the Summary page, but there are too many of them to go back and fix them all.  From 8/26/16 on this link is accurate, with hopefully not too much confusion caused by this latest stupid snafu from the Alphabet overlords’ programming problems.
AND … at least until the Oscars for 2016’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, February 26, 2017 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2016 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards 
and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists.  You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).

To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2016 along with the Oscar nominees for 2016 films.

Here’s more information about 20th Century Women: (23:44 press conference from the 2016 New York Film Festival with director Mike Mills and actors Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann—the audio’s just a bit low at times though); because the other major player in this film, Greta Gerwig, wasn’t at that occasion I’ll add this short interview (4:26) with her at 

Here’s more information about Dependents Day: (very detailed, marvelously informative website) (IMDb; the usual additional details plus 1 user review and a dozen external reviews) (2 positive reviews—one from Katie Walsh of the Los Angeles Times—but nothing else yet)

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken*

*Please note that YouTube keeps taking down various versions of this majestic Eagles performance at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  so I have to keep putting in newer links (of the same damn material) to retrieve it; this "Hotel California" link was active when I did this posting but the song won't be available in all of our previous ones done before 1/26/2017.  Sorry, but there are too many postings to go back and re-link every one; the corporate overlords triumph again.

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.


  1. The director of Dependent's Day, Michael David Lynch, replied via email to my concern about his Cam character having resemblances to Cam on ABC-TV's Modern Family and authorized me to pass on his comments to clarify that it was all just coincidence:

    "I have never seen modern family. Had no idea they have a character named Cam.

    I named him Cam because he was based off a guy named Sam that really left a porn tape in the VCR that I know. Lol. --- I had Cam do a clown job because of some actors I know work as clowns, nannies, and waiters. I was trying to ground Cam in jobs that anyone can do in the USA not just LA. To make it more relatable. I even asked to borrow the clown costume from a friend but he needed it for work so we had to buy that one."

    So, there's proof that you should never assume anything just based on circumstantial evidence until you've had "all inquiries made" (to quote Vito Corleone from The Godfather). Thanks again, Michael, for clearing this up. Ken

  2. Great review!!! I loved the movie and you appreciated it like I did even though you are not female. I feel it is a movie that women can relate to more and I was surprised it was written and directed by a man. Thanks for an insightful and thoughtful review.

  3. Just for clarity, this comment came from my wife, Nina Kindblad, who somehow was able to get into my Google account to leave these words (good thing we already have a joint checking account). Thanks, Sweetie; glad you liked what I had to say about 20th Century Women, even if you probably did get more of it than I did, no matter how much I liked it. Ken