Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Can You Ever Forgive Me? along with a Short Takes segment on Bohemian Rhapsody

     History Repeats Itself on Screen (again)

                                                  Reviews by Ken Burke
      Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller)  rated R
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): We’re back in “based on a true story” territory again (as is also the case with Bohemian Rhapsody farther below), this time about the clever-for-awhile-scam pulled off by struggling biographer Lee Israel who discovers her hidden talent is forging letters from departed literary celebrities to sell to collectors, which she’s successful enough at on her own, but then her fortunes really expand when she enlists the help of new friend (likewise homosexual, likewise heavy drinker) Jack Hock who’s as good as conning higher prices out of unsuspecting buyers as Lee is at creating these bogus correspondences, that is until suspicions arise bringing the FBI in to explore just what may be going on in the more-obscure book markets of NYC.  While you can easily get the rest of Lee’s story through biographical sources (or, if you have the time, reading her own book about these exploits on which this film and its title are based), her situation probably isn’t as generally-well-known as is Freddie Mercury’s short-lived-rocket-ride-to-musical-fame so I’ll keep a few details back for now in case you’d like to find this film for yourself (well worth the trouble if you can locate it, as it’s not playing in very many theaters just yet) before learning any more about the outcome.  Even if you do know what’s up in the end here, it’s still worth your time to see Melissa McCarthy as Israel, an outstanding dramatic performance showcasing her full range of thespian abilities, with an equally-solid-supporting-turn from Richard E. Grant as Jack.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who want to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify any give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: We return to 1991 Manhattan where Lee Israel, a middle-aged, previously-successful-biographer of notable women (Tallulah Bankhead [book published in 1972], Dorothy Kilgallen [1979], Estée Lauder [1985]) has fallen on hard times because while the Kilgallen book was on the New York Times Best Sellers List the Lauder one quickly found its way to remainder tables so Lee’s now 3 months behind on her apartment rent, unable to come up with enough cash to buy medicine for her sick cat (probably her only friend, as her prickly personality didn’t endear her to hardly anyone).  She tries browbeating her agent, Marjorie (Jane Curtain), into getting her a hefty advance on her in-progress-bio of Fanny Brice, to which equally-hardnosed Marjorie curtly replies no one’s interested in another Brice book so if Lee needs income that badly she should find another line of work.  Times are so hard for Israel (no, that’s not a headline from a Palestinian newspaper) she hauls a stack of books from her own collection to a local book-buyer/seller who snottily offers her $2 for a couple of them, insists she take the rest away, has no interest at all in her previous publishing successes.  Later, drowning her sorrows in Scotch at a bar (a likely drain on what meager resources Lee has) she strikes up a conversation with Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), whom she finally remembers she once met at a party where he was so drunk he took a whiz in a coat closet, thinking it was a restroom, ruining a whole stack of high-society fur coats.  Jack continues to weave in and out of her life, as she understands him as a kindred spirit: active drinker, sophisticated attitudes but little materially to show for it, a gay man with no regular partner (nor, seemingly, a home; he truly depends “on the kindness of strangers,” passing liaisons providing a bit of comfort and shelter) just as Lee’s inability to maintain a relationship previously resulted in her split from Elaine (Anna Deavere Smith).  Desperate to get some cash somehow, she sells a framed letter from Katharine Hepburn (subject of Lee’s 1967 Esquire article, which pushed her writing career into a higher gear), as there’s a market among the well-to-do for such memorabilia from noted celebrities.

 Determined to keep pushing ahead on the Fanny Brice bio, Lee’s doing research at the NY Public Library when she stumbles across a couple of lettersone handwritten the other typedfrom Brice in a book she’s perusing, so she sells the cursive note to her previous buyer, Anna (Dolly Wells), who later makes a sincere attempt to get closer to Lee, presumably personally interested in her, but after their dinner in a restaurant one night Lee essentially brushes her off as she does everyone else except Jack.  However, Anna’s explained to Lee how these celebrity letters are worth more if they contain interesting details of the author’s life so, armed with various old typewriters, old or oven-baked stationary, some practice at forging signatures, and a lot of surface humility/inner hutzpah Lee’s soon selling her fakes (content written by her after extensive research on her subjects) all over town, making a nice enough income to pay her debts as well as treat Jack to some decent meals and booze.  Her scam hits the rocks, though, when a Noël Coward letter of hers is challenged by the buyer (who knew Coward), insisting he’d never mention his gayness, as noted in the faked “correspondence.”  This puts her on a watchlist of both other letter-buyers and the FBI, with one of her previous dealers insisting she pay him $5,000 or he’ll make trouble.  Unable to peddle her wares directly, she recruits Jack to do the selling, which he proves very successful at (scoring the 5 grand), with the further suggestion that to avoid authentication problems she should steal actual letters from archives, replacing them with copies, then he can hustle those originals with impunity.  

 ⇒She pulls this off swap-scheme at Yale, getting away with an authentic Lillian Hellman, only to become horrified upon her return to Manhattan where Jack’s been taking care of her apt., finding the place in a shambles, her cat dead, so she’s ready to throw Jack out of her life, leaving her with no one to fence her products after he completes the Hellman deal; however, it matters little because the FBI grabs him when he makes the Hellman sale, soon uses his testimony to arrest her, leading to a sympathetic-enough-judge who gives her a sentence of 5 years probation, 6 months of house arrest (after a grand soliloquy in which she admits pride in the literary prowess she displayed, shame at the consequences of her actions).  During her arrest period she’s allowed to attend AA meetings, but one day when she’s supposedly at one she’s actually meeting Jack in a bar to make amends, get his permission to include him in the book she’s now writing about their escapades (providing the basis for this film).  In a final scene (after a short one where she’s writing Can You Ever Forgive Me?, playing with her new kitten), she sees one of her Dorothy Parker letters (including the phrase “Can you ever forgive me?”) for sale in a shop window, finds out it’s going for $1,900 (including a letter of authentication [?]) so she sends the owner a note from “Dorothy” telling him the item’s a fake so he starts to remove it from his window, then decides to just leave it there for sale.⇐

So What? Early on this film has overtones of Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979) with its identifying shots of the city (including the neon sign on the New Yorker building to easily confirm to us the location of the firing scene where we first meet Israel, drinking Scotch at her desk, telling her coworkers to “fuck off”), jazz on the soundtrack, a sense of shifting morality in this demanding metropolis, but that resemblance fades quickly enough, allowing this based-in-reality-tale (with minimal [?]-diversionary-fictional-enhancement, especially in presenting neither Lee nor Jack as being likeable characters, just urbanites fallen on hard times with little hope of improvement without taking dangerous chances: Lee knows from the start she’s likely facing prison time if she’s ever caught in her carefully-concocted-scam; Jack appears at her apt. one night beaten up from an unkind stranger), so when Marjorie tells Lee to find some other career it’s clear to us this 51-year-old-woman has few options in the unforgiving Big Apple.  Can You Ever ... presents us with a bit of a quandary as well, as we’re set up at the beginning with reasons to find some resonance with Lee (both Marjorie and Lee’s flippant book-buyer are harsh and sarcastic with her, yet both are just trying to do their jobs as best they can in equally-high-pressure-situations of varying natures, where they face lots of gruff on a daily basis as well) but then we see how little effort she makes to improve her squalor (when she finally gets her building manager to send up a guy to fumigate the flies in her flat he quickly leaves because of the stench, some of which is dried cat poop under her bed), we know her forged letters are a blatant criminal act, and—when you think about it—her post-arrest-situation is a bit dodgy as she finally has another successful book but it’s because of the creative nature of her illegal acts ⇒(there were some complaints at the time of its publication she was simply being rewarded for her crimes, not really facing any true punishment, although that final shot of the guy keeping the phony Dorothy Parker letter for sale indicates how widespread corruption is in all levels of society).⇐  We can’t be held fully complicit in such complaints for buying tickets to this film, though, because Lee died in 2014, but the paradox of assets continuing to grow for her likely estate might give some of us pause as to further contributing to her original miscarriage of justice, as she produced about 400 forgeries allowing her to live in some material comfort, for a short time at least.  (Which is partially why Film Reviews from Two Guys in the Dark exists, to give detailed accounts of current cinema offerings for those who prefer not to buy their own tickets—although maybe we also assist in some post-screening-speculations/ruminations from those who [like me] continue to support the vast movie industry with our ongoing-monetary-outlay.)

Bottom Line Final Comments: The point of the title of this posting is that once again (as has been the case of late) Hollywood has taken to the historical records of actual happenings to inspire what are often called docudramas where fact is enhanced (improved?) with fictional additions, although in the case of Can You Ever … there are likely fewer liberties taken with this portion of Lee Israel’s life, given the script is adapted from her own non-fiction-account of the limited-success-scam she had going until her talent for literary license extended just far enough beyond the realm of authenticity that she found herself caught in her own tangled web.  Unlike the situation of fact vs. fictionalization for plot impact in Bohemian Rhapsody, though (explored below), all that seems to matter concerning Can You Ever Forgive Me? is how impressed critics are with the lead performances, so that the analysts at Rotten Tomatoes have given this film an astounding total of 98% positive reviews while even the usually-more-reserved folks at Metacritic have offered an 87% average score, one of the highest I’m aware they’ve awarded this year (their only notably-higher-mark I’ve seen was a 90% score given to a narrative from the other end of life’s spectrum from Lee’s aging adult, the still-in-progress-adolescent in Eighth Grade [Bo Burnham; review in our August 2, 2018 posting]).  Unfortunately for McCarthy’s Best Actress Oscar nomination chances, this film may be out a bit too early for awards voters to keep it mind when the more-hyped-contenders roll out near the end of the year, plus it’s not had much chance to make any box-office-impact—after 3 weeks in release it’s just up to 180 theaters with a gross so far of only about $1.8 million, so we’ll just have to see if it can keep drawing enough interest to pull in bigger audiences, make more of a memory for itself before attention’s turned elsewhere in too many different directions.  (In a way, it reminded me of an even-more-somber-story of 2 Depression-era-society-left behinds in Ironweed [Héctor Babenco, 1987] but with an even-more-destitute-narrative situation; it's also an adaptation [but from a novel, a Pulitzer Prize-winner from William Kennedy {1983}], with 2 of the biggest stars of its era, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, both nominated for Oscar’s top acting prizes but neither won even with a late-December-release-date, prime time for nomination consideration, so I’m afraid I’m rather skeptical about Can You …’s Oscar chances, which is likely why Fox Searchlight brought it out now for maximum-build-possibilities as audiences might tire of tales about rock stars, nutcrackers, and various forms of horror or superhero fantasy.)

 Whether this film conjures up enough memories when awards-ballot-season kicks into gear in a couple of months, though, doesn’t diminish its available-now/low-key-but-intriguing resonance, not unlike more elaborate hustle or heist movies we’ve come to love over the years (The Sting [George Roy Hill, 1973], Ocean’s Eleven [Steven Soderbergh, 2001]) where we know crimes are being committed but we find reasons to root for the criminals anyway, usually because there’s some sort of legitimate revenge motive involved or simply because we can marvel at the intricate planning needed to pull off a complex, seemingly-impossible theft (Topkapi [Jules Dassin, 1964]).  Of course, here there’s nothing to justify Lee’s crimes except she’s hit writer’s block leaving her with a meager idea for the kind of biographical research she’d previously proven successful at, so it takes a subtle aspect of McCarthy’s performance to give us reason to care for this caustic woman’s survival in NYC’s fierce urban jungle (I speak from experience), without this famed comic actor having to resort to any sort of silly exaggerations to remind us of her previous funny roles (maybe we just support seeing her find some avenue of sustenance on behalf of her aging, sick cat who easily generates sincere sympathy, especially given the apartment-sized-dirtbox he’s forced to live in).  ⇒However, once we begin to see how inspired Lee is in conjuring up the content of her myriad fakes as well as pulling off the letter switcheroo in the confines of a private collection room in the Yale library, we at least come to respect her ability to snatch (temporary) victory from the jaws of defeat, even when admitting—as she does at her sentencing hearing, alternating between pride and remorse in her speech to the judge—what she did is totally wrong, requiring another dose of sincerity in her acceptance of guilt,⇐ all of which brings me to my review-wrap-up-tactic of a Musical Metaphor to put a cap on what’s previously been discussed but from an aural perspective.  Sometimes I ponder for days over what to use with a given film, but in this case (as with Bohemian Rhapsody just below) the choice came to me instantly:  “I’m Sorry” (written by Dub Allbritten, Ronnie Self), made famous by Brenda Lee (on her self-named 1960 album) at 1kE (featuring horrible video images but the audio’s fine) because “You tell me mistakes Are part of being young [or at least young enough at heart to have the gumption for such crimes*] But that don’t right the wrong that’s been done […] Please accept my apology But love [of your own self-respect as a worthwhile artist] is blind And I was too blind to see.”  OK, Lee, I guess you’re forgiven.

*Not unlike the aging bank robber, Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), featured in another delightful current release, The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery; review in our October 18, 2018  posting).
SHORT TAKES (please note that spoilers also appear here—Well, normally they're in all my reviews, but this next one’s retells the careers of some well-known rock stars exploring their heights [and some lows] so there’s really nothing in the way of spoilers to protect you from, thus I’ve noted none in the upcoming comments [but the boilerplate-spoiler-warning’s still below as required by unwavering-contractual-obligations])

            Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer 
            [and Dexter Fletcher, uncredited])  rated PG-13
A somewhat-fictionalized biography of Freddie Mercury as he went from being an aspiring musician to the role of focal talent for Queen, one of the world’s most renowned rock bands (especially for about a decade, wrapping up after Live Aid in 1985) so there’s not much here you couldn’t get from other sources but there’s plenty of music plus a dynamic performance from Rami Malek as Freddie.

Here’s the trailer:

       Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.

Freddie Mercury (left), Rami Malek (right)
 With the inclusion of Can You Ever Forgive Me? in this posting, I’ve mostly by the sheer chance of recent-viewing-interest-choices been reviewing independent films playing in a limited number of nationwide-theaters over the last couple of months (primary exception: A Star Is Born [Bradley Cooper; review in our October 11, 2018 posting], although First Man [Damien Chezelle; review in our October 18, 2018 posting] finally gained a little traction as well), so in deference to last weekend’s highly-successful-box-office-champion (of the world, for a week at least) I made it a point to join a well-attended-screening of Bohemian Rhapsody just to see what kind of impact it could present of Queen’s dynamic lead singer/songwriter/musician Freddie Mercury (even though except for hearing/liking their most-popular-songs frequently on the radio over the last few decades I’ve never been all that interested in their presence in the rock landscape, compared to other artists from the same era [mid-1970s through mid-‘80s] such as The Eagles, Elton John, and Michael Jackson).  Whether other Bohemian ... audience members were also just curious about seeing this depiction of Mercury’s (Rami Malek) powerhouse-performances or are just diehard Queen fans, the global embrace of this movie certainly marks a substantial debut of $145.1 million in box-office-receipts ($51 million of that from domestic [U.S.-Canada] venues, appreciation for such already acknowledged on-screen through an opening bit thanking us for coming out [so to speak] to see it)

 However, as many reviewers have noted, this rendition of the band’s biography plays loosely with some historical facts it’s based on (most notably, when Freddie was actually diagnosed with AIDS), so if such fictionalization bothers you here’s a short video (6:01) about a half-dozen-primary-changes from reality to screenplay you should probably be aware of.  Further, if you don’t fancy the price of a ticket I can also steer you to 2 free documentaries about Queen’s career, this one (57:14)—which is occasionally interrupted by very short mini-ads—and/or another one (1:23:26), from the BBC so no ads but the video quality of this second posting leaves a lot to be desired; however, both of these docs mostly feature recollection-commentary from relevant individuals, not all that much performance footage, so you do find that on-stage-advantage in the current fact-massaged-movie, where most of the performance audio also comes from the original band, not the actors portraying them, although the lip-sync is flawless.  Further, if you just want to be amazed at the manner by which Malek inhabits his incarnation of Mercury (although very sanitized where gay-sex-aspects of his life were concerned)—maybe even at Oscar-nomination-level—matinee prices might serve you well; although, overall I think you might be just as satisfied with a Queen “greatest hits” CD, backed up by a few choice YouTube videos of these actual rockers.  The collective critical establishment agrees with only 60% positive reviews at RT, a dismissive 49% average score at MC.

 While filmic biographies of famous musicians have long been a Hollywood staple in such movies as The Fabulous Dorseys [bandleaders Tommy and Jimmy] (Alfred E. Green, 1947); The Glenn Miller Story [another big bandleader] (Anthony Mann, 1954); Lady Sings the Blues [legendary Billie Holiday] (Sidney J. Furie, 1972); Coal Miner’s Daughter [country star Loretta Lynn] (Michael Apted, 1980); Ray [Charles, ‘nuff said] (Taylor Hackford, 2004); Walk the Line [superstar Johnny Cash] (James Mangold, 2005); Get on Up [godfather of soul James Brown] (Tate Taylor, 2014 [review in our August 7, 2014 posting]), Bohemian Rhapsody—despite being grounded in actuality—feels too much like yet-another-version of the fully-fictional A Star Is Born but with Freddie occupying both the primary roles: the nobody who becomes an international entertainment sensation plus the fading artist succumbing to a tragic death (with no snarkiness intended here regarding Freddie as addressing attributes of A Star…’s main characters, first known as Esther Blodgett and Norman Maine [again, see our above-noted-review for an overview of A Star …’s evolution] as well as respecting the grim circumstances of his death as not being dramatic hyperbole as with the various … Born suicides).  We follow Freddie’s (he began in 1946 as Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar [an island off Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast in Africa], early on dismissed in England after his family moved to London as a no-account-“Paki” [a slur on Pakistani residents of Great Britain, even though his lineage is Indian-Parsi, the latter being descendant-followers of Persia’s ancient Zoroastrian religion]) adult life from 1970 (Heathrow Airport baggage handler, college art student) through Queen’s triumphant performance on July 13, 1985 at Wembley Stadium’s Live Aid concert (with another one on the same day in Philadelphia, raising huge sums of money for starving Ethiopians).*

*Some reviews I’ve read claim this movie depicts Queen’s entire 21-minute set at Live Aid, which is generally true because the band cut short most of their songs by eliminating verses or choruses to fit into an assigned timeframe—given the many acts on the billbut this current version doesn’t include “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” so if you want to see the full experience by the real guys—the opening of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Hammer to Fall,” “Crazy Little Thing …,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions”—(plus a slightly later duet that night of Mercury and May doing “Is This the World We Created?”) you could watch this video (or, if you do see the movie, you can compare the 2 versions to see how the remake’s astoundingly close to the original).

 In that Freddie (who legally changed his name, much to his father, Bomi Bulsara’s [Ace Bhatti] chagrin) was a truly talented singer (he says his extra 4 incisor teeth broadened his mouth to give him better vocal quality, although Malek had to wear a prosthesis to approximate Mercury’s natural overbite), songwriter, and instrumentalist, he easily found a home with others who needed to merge his abilities with their own—primarily guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), whose previous lead singer/bass player, Tim Staffell (Jack Roth), of their largely-under-the-radar-London group, Smile, suddenly quit to follow a seemingly-better-option, to then be replaced by Mercury and bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello)—with Freddie soon changing the band’s name, seemingly in tribute to England’s monarch (although Queen takes on additional connotations later given Freddie’s midcareer-newly-shifted-sexual-realization).  Along the way they generate some relatively-easy-early-hits, fight with EMI record-company-honcho Ray Foster (Mike Myers—effectively playing a corporate stiff, basically unrecognizable under his beard) over the bizarre structure and content of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” find themselves coming apart as a cohesive group in the mid-‘80s due to Freddie’s raging ego, with the situation made all the more brittle by his emerging-identity-manifestation from straight (lovingly-engaged to Mary Austin [Lucy Boynton]) to gay (ultimately settling in with his personal manager, Paul Prenter [Allen Leech], for a few years) along with his financially-motivated-decision to accept a 2-album-deal with CBS (for the hefty sum of $4 million), effectively breaking up the band while he goes off to Munich in 1984 to collaborate with different musicians he can fully take command of (as shown here but explained differently in that short video I noted above, with the timeframe altered a bit from reality, as well as the music being much better received than is depicted in this movie, Mercury saying in … Rhapsody that without the honest oppositions the Queen members offered to his less-than-well-conceived-ideas his solo results were very disappointing to him, which doesn’t seem to have actually been the case).

 We then fly through Freddie’s over-indulgence in every form of hedonism, Paul keeping Mary at bay from her former lover (she remained close, even as she connected to David [Max Bennett], a new man of her own) along with not even telling Freddie about the Live Aid offer leading to Paul’s banishment, Freddie’s difficult apologies to his former bandmates, ultimately their triumphant set at Live Aid (which initially seems like it might have been intended more for their career revival than to support the overall concert’s altruistic intentions but then moves back into moral territory when Freddie discloses his [historically-inaccurate] AIDS diagnosis)—although facts get compressed again when on Live Aid day Freddie finally looks up Jim Hutton (Aaron McCusker), a waiter from one of his parties he became fascinated with years before, then takes Jim to meet the Bulsara family, Freddie now in complete command of his new identity while thanking his father for ultimately giving him a solid enough grounding to become whom he truly is (“Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”)—so the band goes out fully on top again, leaving us with pre-final-credits-graphics about Freddie and Jim staying together until Mercury’s death from AIDS complications in 1991 (he stopped performing with Queen after 1986), the establishment of the Mercury Phoenix Trust to help combat AIDS worldwide, then those credits in tandem with actual Queen footage.  I was entertained enough by what I saw, but really nothing here beyond Malek’s amazing performance (along with the other on-stage-actors also appearing as competent musicians) gave me any particular reason to feel like this tribute to Mercury and his mates was anything more than a well-produced, sincere (and, as noted by many, sanitized where the gay sex is concerned, except for a lot of leather-clad-innuendo) attempt to give a high-profile-rock-band their due because of the mesmerizing presence of their star performer.  For a proper Musical Metaphor, though, I’ll return you to their most infamous star performance, that of the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” (which you get more of full-on in Mike Meyers’ Wayne’s World [1992]—connected to the song’s highly-successful re-release that year, all shortly after Mercury’s death)from the 1975 A Night at the Opera album (a title, as the movie indicates, to point to the extreme radical approach of the music as well as being a direct-borrowing from the famous Marx Brothers’ 1935 movie [Sam Wood]) at, the original music video of this wild conglomeration (with lyrics, if you like, below the video screen in this link) which had a great influence on the developing genre of such audiovisual creativity, especially nourished from 1981 on through the presence of cable's MTV.

*If you’d like an extensive, well-referenced exploration of the song, go to this site, which may take longer to read, given its extensive detail, than to listen to Queen’s expansive-time/more-complexity-than-previous-standard-pop recording (even exceeding Brian Wilson’s breakthrough studio work on "Good Vibrations" [also well-explored at this other Wikipedia site]—first released as an extraordinary single hit in 1966 [although this link's version shows how it could have been even a bit more radical for that early rock era], finally included on the Beach Boys’ 1967 Smiley Smile album). 
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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Here’s more information about Can You Ever Forgive Me?: (I had trouble with this loading properly on Safari but it worked fine on Chrome) (34:10 interview with actors Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells [begins with the trailer from the above review])

Here’s more information about Bohemian Rhapsody: (9:42 interview of Rami Malek by Jimmy Kimmel)

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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

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

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.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come. 
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 4,462 (as always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:

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