Thursday, August 22, 2019

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

“Take the Long Way Home”
(from the Supertramp song [starts at 0:19 on this video] 
of the same name on the 1979 album Breakfast in America)
Review by Ken Burke
I invite you to join me on a regular basis to see how my responses to current cinematic offerings compare to the critical establishment, which I’ll refer to as either the CCAL (Collective Critics at Large) if they agree with me or the OCCU (Often Cranky Critics Universe) if they choose to disagree.

                                   Where’d You Go, Bernadette 
                                (Richard Linklater)   rated PG-13
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Bernadette, a rising star in the architectural field (seemingly unusual, as presented hereat least a couple of decades agofor a woman) hits a major snag in her career because of a dispute over her most-recent project, leading to her moving from L.A. to Seattle, largely becoming a housebound-recluse while her software-engineer husband pursues a time-consuming career at Microsoft.  During these years they have a daughter, Bee, now a teenager, who’s Mom’s only friend as her mother so easily gets into disputes with other mothers from her daughter’s school as well as her pushy, Type-A next-door neighbor, Audrey, who insists Bernadette cut back the massive blackberry bushes covering the hillside as they’re encroaching on Audrey’s property; Bernadette complies only to see the hill turn into a mudslide during a rainstorm, bringing condemnation from Audrey about her damaged home.  Further anxiety for Bernadette comes from Bee taking her parents up on a choose-your-prize-promise which the girl wants to cash in for a family trip to Antarctica, bringing up many issues for Mom, including agoraphobia (fear of feeling trapped, helpless), making it difficult for her to travel on such an ocean-liner-trip.  She’s got even worse problems, though, because the personal assistant (in India!) she communicates with via computer turns out to be Russian criminals set to wipe out her family’s entire financial holdings, so husband Elgin’s prepared to have his wife committed for psychiatric intervention, causing her to slip away with no notice of where she’s gone, setting the family on a desperate search for her.  While that might seem like a lot of plot to reveal in this no-spoiler zone there are further twists and turns here I’ll withhold for now unless you care to either seek this out for yourself (opened wide, easy to find) or just delve into my full-range-comments below (although this film’s adapted from a best-selling-novel so you may be aware of its outcome anyway).  You’ll find lots of negative critical commentary about … Bernadette, some of which I can understand, but you might be interested anyway just to see another superb performance from Cate Blanchett, as well as a solid directorial effort from Richard Linklater (Kristen Wiig as Audrey is commendable also).  If nothing else, this has unpredictable plot devices not much akin to anything you’d otherwise discover on screen this year. 

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: 20 years ago talented architect Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) was a rising star (studying under Art Vandelay—a joke from NBC TV's Seinfeld; if you don’t get it just move on, amazed someone as old as me still knows how to type [with 8 fingers, not just 2 thumbs, ya young punks!]), a standout-female in a male-dominated-discipline; just as her stature was growing, though (winner of a MacArthur Genius grant), her career hit a snag when she built the 20 Mile House in southern California, using only materials from within a 20-mile-radius of the dwelling.  For some reason I didn’t catch, a rich neighbor detested the project, secretly bought the house then had it destroyed, which sent Bernadette into a self-imposed-spiral-of-assumed-failure, so when her computer-animation-programmer-husband Elgin Branch (Billy Crudup) got a lofty job at Microsoft she eagerly moved to Seattle, almost completely withdrew from society, suffering from insomnia, holed up in an old dilapidated mansion on a hill which seems to be in various states of renovation, with nothing much completed.  (One room features a Catholic Church confessional sunk into the wall; I assume this is Bernadette's doing, given that’s a rare adornment, especially for a house where religion’s never mentioned.  In one of many quirky scenes the family dog, Ice Cream, somehow gets stuck in there even though Bernadette can’t get the door open so she performs a rescue by climbing up a ladder to a high opening in some sort of shaft leading down into the confessional [hopefully, the dog’s sins have been absolved by then]).  After 4 miscarriages, Bernadette and Elgin have a daughter, Bee Branch (Emma Nelson), born with a weak heart requiring several surgeries to correct, who becomes her mother’s best (only?) friend over the next dozen years, with Bernadette a virtual recluse except driving Bee to and from her upscale-school where Mom easily finds fault with the other mothers, especially her next-door-neighbor, Audrey Griffin (Kristen Wiig), a rich social activist involved in many causes, including how Bernadette’s overgrowth of blackberry bushes on her hillside has invaded Audrey’s yard so she wants a landscaper to cut out much of this offending-foliage, which Bernadette haughtily agrees to mostly to limit her need for ongoing interactions with Audrey on the matter.  Bee creates a bigger problem for Mom, however, by reminding her parents they promised their child anything she wanted if she got perfect grades in middle school.  Naturally, she did, so her shocking choice is a family trip to Antarctica (just a bit of the coastside continent, though, safe for tourists; anywhere on toward the South Pole requires a lot more stamina and rigorous preparation, even for the heartiest scientist).  Bernadette’s privately terrified of this trip from a combination of her severe agoraphobia (fearing she'll get into difficult interactions), her precise culinary demands, her general intention to limit public exposure lest she be recognized, forced to relive what she perceives as her professional humiliation, her inability to revive her once-brilliant-career, which Bee only learns about through an Internet video-bio of Mom.

 With all this complex premise in place (bringing some good laughs at times to balance out the harsh distain Bernadette shows to everyone except Bee most of the time—including Elgin, who’s somewhat alienated both wife and daughter through his constant workaholic absence from home), the situation gets increasingly complex: (1) With the Fox-Branch hillside mostly cleared at Audrey’s insistence the now-barren-land turns into a mudslide during a heavy rain, flowing into Audrey’s home not only causing great property damage but also ruining a recital by some of the school’s youngest students; (2) Then an FBI agent shows up at Elgin’s office, telling him the interactions Bernadette’s been having with Manjula, her computer-based-personal-assistant in India (I got the initial sense this is a sophisticated A.I. program housed on the Asian subcontinent, but maybe it’s a person) to handle most of her affairs, has set up disaster because this site’s actually run by Russian criminals who now have the family’s account numbers, passwords, etc. and are on their way to the U.S. to wipe them out financiallyElgin’s also concerned about his wife’s cavalier use of various prescription drugs during this time; (3) Elgin’s new personal assistant, Soo-Lin Lee-Segal (Zoë Chao), has a son in Bee’s class so she knows about Bernadette’s quirks plus she’s also a close friend of Audrey’s, willing to drop hints with her boss undermining his wife (as well as getting emotionally closer to Elgin), leading him to bring in psychiatrist Dr. Kurtz (Judy Greer) who thinks Bernadette needs therapy/institutionalization for awhile; (4) Bernadette meets up with former colleague Paul Jellinek (Laurence Fishburne) who encourages her to break out of her shell, unleash her creatively, so when she cancels the “emergency” dental appointment she intended to be her excuse to avoid the Antarctica trip (allowing Elgin and Bee to go on without her), comes home ready to announce her willingness for the voyage she finds Elgin, Soo-Lin, Dr. Kurtz, and the FBI guy waiting to do an intervention so she makes a trip to the bathroom, exits through the ground-floor-window, disappears from their frantic attempts to find her by going where no one would think to look: Audrey’s house; Bernadette's sad, honest appraisal of her life’s failures convinces her now-sympathetic-neighbor to drive Bernadette to the airport where she flies away for Antarctica, alone.

 Soon after she escapes, though, the Russian crooks are caught at some other airport so the financial threat’s off our troubled family, allowing Elgin and Bee to figure out what’s happened, head south to try to find Bernadette again, then through some decent detective work (along with slow—followed by faster—reconciliation between father and daughter, as Bee’s long felt neglected by Dad, made plans to attend a boarding school back East to get away from her family’s constant tensions) they determine where they could rendezvous with Mom.  In the meantime, Bernadette’s met up with a South Pole-based-scientist, during what started out as a solo kayaking break from her cruise-ship-docking-schedule until this woman paddles over to start a conversation; she tells Bernadette of the need to build a new, complex work station at the Pole which motivates our erratic-architect to wrangle a trip to the site to see what her design would need to be for such a complex operation (although she must have her wisdom teeth removed by an available veterinarian because the crew out in this wilderness can’t afford any sort of medical/dental emergencies in such a land of bitter isolation) so she’s leaving a long phone message home when Elgin and Bee show up,  All is forgiven (Elgin’s even quit his Microsoft job to work independently, allowing more time to spend with his grateful family; Bee decides not to go away to boarding school), Bernadette’s quest is accepted (she’ll be on this project for about 6 months).  Drawings and photos during the credits show how her modular, moving design comes together well, likely restoring her stellar reputation.⇐

So What? You couldn’t ask for less encouragement from the OCCU regarding … Bernadette (based on a 2012 comedic-novel by Maria Semple), with Rotten Tomatoes registering only 46% positive reviews, Metacritic offering an unusually-higher-but-stil-low-51% average score, but I chose to see it anyway (more on that in the next review section below), resulting in 2 more tickets being sold to my ever-trusting-wife, Nina, and one of our regular viewing companions (just back from 7 weeks in London where he could avoid the daily diatribes from Trump but instead endured endless talk about potential disaster from the looming Brexit “leave” deadline of October 31, 2019).  Afterward, we agreed Where’d … was interesting, not necessarily something to recommend except for certain aspects (ice-laden land/seascapes, mostly [apparently shot in Greenland—before Trump buys it, then fills it with hotels and global-warmed-golf courses where glaciers used to be—and Antarctica] along with the usual premiere acting job from Blanchett), certainly not something to mull over too long prior to getting into Berkeley's Shattuck Cinema lounge for drinks, conversation, and ruminations on what made that source novel so popular.  (None of which should nullify your options of seeing this film if you find its premise interesting—especially with playing in 2,404 domestic [U.S.-Canada] venues, a surprisingly-wide-release given the content’s essentially-esoteric-nature; yes, I quickly admit, the general audience is more likely to venture into tales of emergingly-lustful-adolescents [Good Boys {Gene Stupnitsky}] or action heroes airborne in vehicles not intended for flight [Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw {David Leitch}]—note, however, the absence of Two Guys reviews of these latter choices for reasons I hope I don’t have to explain), but I can also offer you some speculation (in my next section as well) as to why this unlikely choice got the huge-theaters-commitment, even though I wouldn’t expect it play in such a fashion for long, so if anything about it is appealing I advise getting to your local multiplex soon, or maybe you’d prefer to just read the original book which won the 2013 Alex Award from the American Library Association to go along with its excellent sales record (1 year on the New York Times Bestseller List, 72 weeks on the NPR Paperback Fiction Best Seller List, 12 weeks on NPR’s Hardcover Fiction Bestseller List).  Based on a summary I’ve seen (You didn’t really expect me to read the book, did you?  Be reasonable; you know I have standing obligations to watch Oakland A’s baseball games and make sure U.S. whiskey distillers don’t go out of business during these trade wars.) the plot’s virtually the same, although it gets a little steamier as Soo-Lin has a drunken 1-night-stand with Elgin, resulting in her pregnancy, but I don't know what further becomes of this dreadful complication for their lives.

 I also don’t know how to properly decipher a few aspects of the film’s plot because with what I comprehended from watching it, I couldn’t fully explain to myself some details of what I’d seen (maybe I missed something while notetaking).  The simplest confusion I have is how quickly Elgin and Bee are able to resolve their differences once they get to Antarctica, especially because the daughter’s quite upset with her father when they first arrive in the land of icebergs (long may they survive, as climate change continues to savage our Earth), then warms to a state of acceptance as he’s honest about how disturbing Bernadette’s change of attitude became over the long years of their marriage (this father-daughter aspect could ideally use better development, yet I accept you can only pack so much plot into 110 min. of running time).  Speaking of Bernadette, I’m also a bit confused as to why she’s now so crowd-adverse yet she apparently navigated her way through a successful career for some years where she’d likely had to deal with a constant flow of people making demands on her time and talent, so maybe she’s developed this phobia during her decades of self-isolation, but it does seem a bit odd to me in terms of her personality.  Finally, I can understand we all have fragile egos at some level in our private self-understandings along with our presentations of self in public; however, I’m really not clear on why her sense of professional accountability, her willingness to push her creative visions into tangible monuments to human dwelling become so devastated, so crushed by what’s presented as the debacle of the 20 Mile House being razed by a self-absorbed-neighbor.  Given the praise for the unique domicile she constructed I still don’t see the shame for her due to the actions of a rich idiot, so for me a key—no, fundamental—aspect of this story remains unresolved.  What’s not unclear in the presentation of this narrative, though, is how angry Bernadette is at herself, along with almost everyone around her (except Bee) and the world in general, resulting in distancing, if not full rejection, from those who have the unfortunate fate of coming in contact with her (which she mitigates by confining her interactions as much as possible to her immediate family and her efficient, cybernetic assistant), all of which leads me back to “Take the Long Way Home,” due to lyrics which characterize Bernadette all too well: […] You’re the joke of the neighborhood […] You never see what you wanna see […] Does it feel that your life’s become a catastrophe […] So when the day comes to settle down Who’s to blame when you’re not around You took the long way home.”  Although, she's not truly home yet.

Bottom Line Final Comments: Again, as in recent weeks, other plans/needs limited me to just 1 new cinematic release last weekend (plus, via Turner Movie Classics TV channel, Nina and I also re-watched one of Ingmar Bergman’s later-career-masterpieces, Autumn Sonata [1978] with Ingrid Bergman [deservedly-Oscar-nominated as Best Actress for this role] and Liv Ullman [also deserving of an Oscar-nom—as she was for many of Bergman’s classics—but 2 from the same foreign-language-film would be asking a lot from our American-based-Academy; Ms. Bergman also had the advantage of speaking English some of the time], although you don’t need a review from me to verify this as a 5 stars-worthy-accomplishment, so I’ll just say see it if you never have, especially if you can relate to a smoldering, excellently-paced, years-in-the-making confrontation between a famous mother and her wounded daughter [with another daughter, dying of a horrid nerve disorder, thrown in for good measure]—unlike … Bernadette, there’s no humor here, just powerhouse performances from 2 master thespians), so I tried some inner-arguments to find the best choice, with Where’d You Go, Bernadette (a title I’d say is missing a needed question mark in both its book and film versions) winning out over Blinded by the Light (Gurinder Chadha).  As I’ve discussed in recent reviews, my local film-critic-guru, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle, has had some influence—or at least cause for serious consideration—regarding my choices lately, with my puzzlement over why he was so high on The Farewell (Lulu Wang; review in our August 8, 2019 posting) in his initial review, then pulled back his praise in a subsequent article (noted, with appropriate links to his work, in my review just cited), followed by my (unaware to him, I’m sure; if I ever get a sense he even knows the existence of this blog—written right across the SF Bay from him—I’ll probably die of shock) thanks to him for encouraging me (against horrific numbers from RT, MC) to see The Kitchen (Andrea Berloff; review in our August 14, 2019 posting); in the case of my choice this week, LaSalle just reinforced my already-present-interest in anything involving Linklater and/or Blanchett with a somewhat-positive-review, especially praising Blanchett (“Which leads us to the wild possibility that maybe Blanchett’s showstopping performance is actually the movie’s problem. […] Maybe Blanchett is just a bull in a china shop. [… ¶ …] But I definitely liked the bull. Not crazy about what’s left of that china shop.”), while he took a completely-opposite-view of Blinded … (“It’s hard to describe how bad this movie is and why it’s so bad. […] You can watch 100 movies and never see such joyless joy as in ‘Blinded by the Light.’"), even though the CCAL were generally effusive about it—RT 90% positive reviews, MC 71% average score—so I gambled on LaSalle’s tastes this time not knowing now if I made the right investment nor will I until I get some additional time to see Blinded by the Light (not likely in the short term, given other commitments, even though it’s equally-convenient as ... Bernadette to locate, playing in 2,307 domestic theaters).*

*Blinded …’s also adapted from a book—non-fiction, though—Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll, a 2007 memoir written by journalist/broadcaster/documentarian Sarfraz Manzoor (riffing off Springsteen's 1973 debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ), based on his life as a Pakistani teenager transplanted to England where he became enamored in the late 1980s of Bruce Springsteen’s music, just as is Javed Khan (Viveik Kaira) in this movie, a kid caught between a father who doesn’t want him to assimilate too much and classmates who hassle him because he’s stuck in a situation of trying to fit in better.  In case this one disappears before I even get a chance to see it, I’ll at least indulge my own Springsteen fandom (only saw him live once, in Dallas in the early 1980s, fantastic show) by giving a link to my favorite song of his (at least of the early, more energetic ones), "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)" (7:00, from the 1973 album The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle), easily showing a sense of what resonated so well with Sarfraz/Javed, but in that neither author Manzoor (also co-screenwriter with Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges) nor character Khan would likely have seen “The Boss” live in concert at that point I’ll also give you an extended version (13:21) of the song from a 1980 concert where you get a break for introductions to the band, followed by an explosive return to the song, all of which will be my best connection to this movie until opportunity avails itself for me to actually see it.  In the meantime, I recommend to you another—but totally fictional—tale of a South Asian-heritage-youth in England who also has a strong connection to a later 20th-century-band, The Beatles, in Yesterday (Danny Boyle [another director to stay aware of]; review in our July 3, 2019 posting), for me a marvelous story even though the blasé OCCU was routinely dismissive of it (RT 61% positive, MC 55% score).

 Thus, even though I still found enough value in spending a couple of hours with Oscar-winner-Blanchett (Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator [Martin Scorsese, 2004], Best Actress for Blue Jasmine [Woody Allen, 2013; review in our August 16, 2013 posting]) and Oscar-nominee Linklater (Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Sunset [2004] and Before Midnight [2013]—both directed by him—then multiple noms for Boyhood [2014]—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay [also nominated for Best Supporting Actor {Ethan Hawke}, Best Film Editing {Sandra Adair}, Best Supporting Actress {Patricia Arquette}—winning for the latter]), the box-office-results have not been impressive so far for … Bernadette, taking in a mere $3.5 million in its debut weekend (Blinded by the Light did just marginally-better with receipts of $4.3 million even though it’s also playing wide in domestic theaters, so here’s a case of solid critical support not leading to much box-office-impact, ironically the same result as the excessively-negative-responses to Where’d You Go … ).  Here’s an article supposedly explaining why … Bernadette drew such mixed reviews, yet except for the studio’s frequent change of release date there’s not much true explanation here, just a lot of citations from both negative and more positive explorations; this article provides a bit more solid explanation of why films you’d likely consider to be more art-house-fare, such as … Bernadette and Blinded …, were booked into so many theaters for their debuts, with the fundamental reason being their respective studios just wanted to grab what they could upon initial release before word of mouth quickly dried up the tap, especially with the former.  For now, I’ll just have to wait and see if Blinded … picks up any traction before more competition’s released next week (not too likely unless a curiosity-factor kicks in for those who want more than just a Springsteen soundtrack [it only features The Boss on 13 of its 26 tracks anyway] which they can easily exceed from their own CD/iTunes/Spotify collections or countless YouTube links) while I wouldn’t bet on Where’d You Go, Bernadette (even if they add the question mark) being around much longer, even with all the successful-cinematic-heritage (and built-in-audience from those book sales) it seems ready to offer.

 All that's noted before now leaves me with just my usual wrap-up-tactic of a summary Musical Metaphor which … Bernadette easily helps me with, as this narrative uses Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time” (from her 1983 She’s So Unusual album) first as a mid-film, car-ride sing-a-long in the rain between mother and daughter, varifying the message of the song about unquestioned support—then repeating it under the end credits—(“If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me Time after time If you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting Time after time”), which does sum up how Bee wants to feel about her Mom’s love, although it’s challenged when Bernadette runs away from everyone, including Bee, refusing to deal with the personal/financial crises she’s created for the whole family (even as she's saving herself from a huge dose of intensive/confining therapy in the process of withdrawing from life once again), so I’m not as inclined to use it as Linklater was (if you want a listen, though, here you go [the official music video for this song, with a narrative twist where the woman in the romantic couple, played by Lauper, breaks away, maybe just for awhile, rather than remaining steadily-available—“You said, ‘Go slow.’ I fall behind The second hand unwinds”]).  Instead, I’ll opt for a tune used in the trailer from way back at the start of this review, The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” (from their 1965 album called Begin Here in the U.K., The Zombies [with some different tracks] in the U.S.) at, a live 1965 performance from the pop-music-TV-series, Hullabaloo, because (even though this song’s originally about a failed love connection) metaphorically these lyrics speak to how long in her life and in this film Bernadette’s unavailable for herself or most anyone else around her: “But it’s too late to say you’re sorry How would I know why should I care? Please don’t bother trying to find her She’s not there! […] Her voice was soft and cool Her eyes were clear and bright But she’s not there.”  You may not be there, in the theater, either, given the unlikeable, unclear-why-she’s-so-hostile aspects of Bernadette’s persona, about as icy as the landscape we see her navigating in the beginning and ending scenes here, although Blanchett’s always a wonder to see on screen so you might wish to add this to your knowledge of her spectacular catalogue of eloquent cinematic roles.

 I may not be there—or, more specifically, here—next week either because of some other logistical situations vying for my time usually spent in movie theaters on weekends, including the annual ritual Nina and I celebrate of me finally preparing dinner for 3 nights (comfortably within my limited range: spaghetti, salad, Chianti) so we can eat (and drink) while watching Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974, 1990).  With the various upcoming time frames involved, I may well not get anything written or posted about whatever we are able to squeeze in at some local moviehouse this coming weekend, so in case we don’t see each other again until September I’ll leave you with one more bit of music in celebration of the just-passed 50th anniversary (August 15-18) of the original Woodstock Art and Music Festival (sadly, plans for an actual concert somewhere to mark the occasion fell through), held way back then on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, NY.  (Nina and I managed to at least visit the site during the summer of 2009—only 40 years too late—the day after attending the induction of Oakland Athletics’ great star, Rickey Henderson, into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY; whereas in 1969 the concert stage was at the bottom of a hill now there’s a concert arena at the top of that hill from where music continues to flow if you ever want to check out their schedule and visit some time [there’s also a fabulous museum of the 1960s up there, well worth a visit even if you don’t stick around into the evening for music].)  While you can find lots of worthy memories from that amazing 1969 "peace and love" event on YouTube by simply searching for “1969 Woodstock performances,” I’ll force myself to pick a favorite in Santana’s "Soul Sacrifice" (also on their 1969 debut album, Santana).  This footage is the same (as best I can tell) as what you’d find of their performance in the magnificent documentary, Woodstock (Michael Wadleigh, 1970), but without the stunning, active graphic arrangements of those images (including multi-image diptychs and triptychs), so I encourage you to watch this performance in that format also whenever the opportunity arises.  In the meantime, keep on rockin’ until next we meet and “Don’t go against the family.”  (But, more importantly, don't go against "The Family," capisce?)
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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Here’s more information about Where’d You Go, Bernadette: (mostly listings of where to find it in your area, but if you click on the little 3-bar-box in the upper left you’ll get access to a little more about the film, including a very simple “build a face for Bernadette” page) (25:06 interview with director Richard Linklater and actors Cate Blanchett, Emma Nelson, Zoë Chao, Troian Bellisario, Billy Crudup [begins with the same trailer noted far above])

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.  You can also leave comments at our Facebook page, although you may have to somehow connect with us at that site in order to do it (most FB procedures are still a bit of a mystery to us old farts).

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.)

If we did talk, though, you’d easily see how my early-70s-age informs my references, Musical Metaphors, etc. in these reviews because I’m clearly a guy of the later 20th century, not so much the contemporary world.  I’ve come to accept my ongoing situation, though, realizing we all (if fate allows) keep getting older, we just have to embrace it, as Joni Mitchell did so well in "The Circle Game," offering sage advice even when she was quite young herself.

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 15,739 (as always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers; we’re also proud to note this most-recent-survey shows us in 5 of our hoped-for 6 continents [we never assume Antarctica unless Bernadette might pick up on this particular posting], with relatively-rare-traffic from Africa and Asia, only semi-regular Australia missing from our coverage); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:

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