Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Jojo Rabbit and Short Takes on Where's My Roy Cohn?

And The 2019 Audacity Awards Go To …
Reviews 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.

                         Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)   rated PG-13

“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): In the waning days of WW II in some German town we find a young boy, nicknamed “Jojo,” who yearns so longingly to be a full-blown Nazi someday he even conjures up a fantasy version of Adolf Hitler as his imaginary friend (yes, this story does intend to be a comedy—succeeding as such much of the time, beginning with the opening scene/credits backed on the soundtrack by The Beatles’ German version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” now sung as "Komm, gib mir deine Hand," found on their 1964 U.S. album Something New—although there’s no denial of the atrocious reality it’s set against so it gets quite serious at times as well).  However, due to Jojo’s inability to kill an innocent bunny during a Hitler Youth camp session he’s ridiculed, further nicknamed “Jojo Rabbit,” although he continues to get support from his loving mother (his sister’s dead, his father’s supposed to be with the troops in Italy) and his bumbling “spirit guide,” Adolf, with a huge challenge facing this brainwashed kid when he discovers Mom’s been hiding a teenage Jewish girl in their attic for quite some time.  Given his learned-prejudices he finds it difficult but necessary to form a truce with this refugee who further complicates his confused mind with ridiculous stories incorporating the worst fantastic stereotypes about Jews, probably as a means of keeping herself entertained.  From this point on, significant events occur within this story but none that can be revealed without stumbling into spoiler territory so choose to either read on fully in the review below or seek out this odd film, funny at times yet quite disturbing in what it evokes with a goal of encouraging its audiences to see/learn beyond cultural conventions of ingrained hatred, a noble ambition which may be thwarted for some of us by these satirical depictions with my fear they may be taken too literally by non-discerning viewers.  At present, Jojo Rabbit’s a bit hard to find but it’s making its slow way into the suburbs so if you’re interested in the concept I’d encourage you to give serious consideration to finding it.  Or at least embrace its ultimate lesson from the pre-final-credits-quote by Bohemian (now Czech) poet Rainer Maria Rilke:“Let everything happen to you Beauty and terror Just keep going Nothing is final.” (Yes!)

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.)

(Pop music in German's used ironically in this trailer too, from the Monkees’ "I'm a Believer" [on their 1966 album More of the Monkees; the song's written by Neil Diamond, also recorded by him].)

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: As WW II slowly winds down in an unspecified German city (although the local Nazi authorities wouldn’t have the populace believe that—they hang clandestine-Resistance-citizens in the public square as a warning to stay loyal to der Führer) we meet 10-year-old Johannes “Jojo” Betzier (Roman Griffin Davis), an aspiring Nazi himself, member of the local Hitler Youth troupe, dreaming of someday being in Hitler’s personal guard, although his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), doesn’t encourage such interests, trying to keep a steady course through the war’s misery after the loss of her older child, Inge, to influenza plus the absence of her soldier husband whom she says is in Italy while rumors circulate he’s a traitor.  With all of this serious setup in place, though, the first half or so of this 108 min. film takes a wicked satirical turn as Jojo has an imaginary friend, none other than a silly version of Hitler himself (as Jojo assumes him to think and act, played by writer-director Waititi) with the Youth camp commanded by one-eyed (the reason he’s not on the battlefield), caustic (about the war's likely outcome) Capt. Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), who gets off some good lines the audience can laugh at even as his young recruits must take him seriously.  We encounter Jojo’s troop as they’re in the woods for a training session, the boys being given their prized daggers, taught about patriotism and self-defense, the girls taught how to get pregnant (Klenzendorf’s assistant, Fräulein Rahm’s [Rebel Wilson] proudly had 18 children, all intended for the German army).  To show they can prove their needed-brutality the boys must kill a rabbit by breaking its neck, a task Jojo finds he can’t do so he’s laughed out of the troop, nicknamed “Jojo Rabbit” by the vicious others until Adolph gives him a pep-talk (which must come from the kid’s inner-being as this version of Hitler’s purely a construct of Jojo’s indoctrinated assumptions) about how rabbits are cunning survivors, leading Jojo to rush back into the group’s hand-grenade training, boldly being the first to grab one to toss, but it bounces off a tree, lands back by Jojo as it detonates, leaving him ultimately with facial scars and a limp, forever ending his desired-military-career, now reduced to posting propaganda leaflets around the town at Klenzendorf’s direction (demoted to overseeing harmless children’s activities due to the Jojo debacle).  One day, though, when he comes home early while Mom’s still at work he hears noises upstairs, uses his knife to cut open a panel in the wall where he’s shocked/scared to discover Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie), a Jewish teenager Rosie’s hidden in the attic for a few years (she was Inge’s classmate), dreaming she’ll someday get to Paris to join her fiancé, Nathan.  Jojo threatens to turn her in, she retaliates, telling him he and Rosie will be punished also for harboring her, so they settle on a stalemate (although she ups the ante by grabbing his knife, threatens to take action if he dares get out of line).

 Neither of these conspirators reveal their secret to Rosie, with Jojo seeing Elsa on a regular basis when Mom’s not home, part of their deal being her revealing “Jew secrets” to him so he can write/illustrate a book for Klenzendorf (to curry favor with him), even as imaginary Adolf becomes increasingly hostile toward Jojo as a result of a growing friendship toward this Jewish refugee even though Elsa’s slyly showing Jojo how weak his Nazi-influenced-understanding of the world is by passing on ridiculous stereotypes and fabrications, all of which Jojo readily accepts.  Not even realizing how she’s making him seem foolish, though, he gets in an emotional jab at Elsa (he’s becoming infatuated with her, despite all his prior-rejection-conditioning) by writing a phony letter to her from Nathan saying he’s breaking up with her (I guess Nathan’s supposed to know where she’s in hiding) which upsets Elsa so Jojo follows up with another fake in which Nathan’s changed his mind again.  ⇒The boy’s life gets even more complicated when one day in town he secretly sees Rosie quietly leaving a “free Germany” handbill, followed by a surprise visit another day from the Gestapo, led by Captain Deetz (Stephen Merchant) who—after some ridiculous “Heil Hitler” exchanges—leads his team in ransacking the house, then carrying on some banter with Klenzendorf, who’s just dropped by.  Jojo’s terrified they’ll find Elsa, but she catches them all off-guard by revealing herself, claiming to be Inge, then digging through a desk to find her I.D. card which she gives to Klenzendorf who asks her birthdate; she gets it wrong, but he doesn’t expose her.  After the Gestapo squad leaves, Jojo goes into town where he’s horrified to find his mother hanging in the public square.  Life then settles in for Jojo and Elsa until the war’s end comes for them as American and Russian troops move in, even as Fräulein Rahm’s handing out pistols to children, telling them to kill any Ally they can as she puts an oversized soldier’s coat on Jojo, a futile gesture as the German army surrenders with the Russians rounding up a cluster of them including Klenzendorf who saves Jojo by pulling off the coat, spitting on him, calls him a Jew so the kid can run away (gunfire off-screen indicates the end of these German captives, Geneva Conventions rules about P.O.W.s be-damned, I guess).  Back home, Jojo lies to Elsa Germany’s won the war, then follows up with a new “letter” from Nathan, implying a way to smuggle her to Paris whereupon she finally admits Nathan’s dead but she does love Jojo in a “little brother” manner.  In the final scene, imaginary Adolf (the real one’s also dead by now) confronts Jojo about his feelings for Elsa; Jojo flings him out the window, then allows Elsa to go outside.  She initially slaps him for his lie about the German victory, then gladly celebrates with him, dancing as she said she’d do for the war's end.⇐

So What? As I note in my exploration of Where’s My Roy Cohn? below, I’m still not all that convinced regarding how I truly feel about either of these challenging films, with … Cohn? being a clear indictment of a man (whose protégé, Donald Trump, could use some indictments too) who deserves to be despised but still doesn’t get enough into the legacy of inhumane attitudes he nurtured in the megalomaniac leader (and his simpering-sycophants) in our current Presidential administration, while Jojo Rabbit confounds me a bit because I know it’s intended to be mostly satire with a hopeful message about adversaries overcoming stereotypical misunderstandings, learning of the true humanity within the opposition (something I admit I’m not doing very well regarding Trump and his inner circle, although I don’t ascribe the self-serving-actions so typical of the guy some called “General Bonespurs” on 2019's Veterans’ Day to all of his supporters, just the Renfield-to-Dracula-types like Rudy Giuliani who can’t seem to find a lie they won’t support), but, like some others who've found difficulties with certain aspects of this film (more on that in the second item connected to it in the Related Links section of this posting much farther below) I can’t always get past what Waititi’s trying to do (ridiculing Nazi ideology along with dispelling heinous stereotypes about Jews by presenting them as ridiculous-exaggerations) to fully appreciate his final result because some of what he’s presenting is so unsettling in its very nature it’s hard (at least for me) to easily laugh at it given the cruelty it represents, with my concern that in our current world of xenophobic-nationalists arising in so many seemingly-democratic-nations (to go along with the many societies already hostile to “outsiders” to begin with) to simply dismiss Nazis may bring about the unintended result of lessening the reality of their reign of homicidal-terror, leaving us unprepared to prevent the re-emergence of such vile distortions of humanity.  Sure, I’ve found delight in Charlie Chaplin’s ridicule of Hitler as Adenoid Hynkel, ruthless ruler of Tomania, in The Great Dictator (1940), but this reality-based-parody at least ends with a direct, compassionate plea to reject everything Hitler stood for, just as I’ve always seen Mel Brooks’ The Producers (1967, Oscar-winner for Best Original Screenplay—then turned into a 12-Tony-winning Broadway musical [2001] with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the lead roles, followed by a movie version of the play [Susan Stroman, 2005]) as an hilarious concept, that something as grotesque as a tribute to Hitler and his vision of Aryan supremacy could be embraced (even within this narrative) as glorious satire, much to the chagrin of the shysters who’d hoped to make a fortune by overselling shares to investors in hopes the whole detestable concept would close after opening night.  So, if I’m comfortable with those Nazi-themed-absurdities, what’s holding me back concerning Jojo Rabbit?

 Unfortunately (more for me than for you), even after mulling it over for several days since I saw it last weekend I still can’t give a clear answer on that.  Maybe it’s because the comic aspects largely fade as we get deeper into Jojo …’s story (although there’s certainly a lot of absurdity in that later scene where the Gestapo group barges into Jojo’s home,* with the constant overkill of the “Heil Hitler” salutes intentionally run into the ground, indicating the blind attachment these deluded Germans have to their National Socialist cause), yet that’s not a problem for me with The Great Dictator even as anti-Semitism, ordered killings, concentration camps become part of the text as we move on from Hynkel’s ridiculous balletic-scene early on in Chaplin’s classic, largely because we don’t see much mayhem, then it’s all challenged in that rousing final speech.  With The Producers absurdity continues throughout, even after the play’s audience has been won over by what they see as so ridiculous it must be intended to be laughed at (which everyone but Bialystock and Bloom [more on them shortly] can easily do, us included) so we realize the broader entertainment industry’s being satirized as well, with concerns about misguided-acceptance of the Nazis lightened somewhat by our awareness of its origins from a Jewish entertainer, Brooks, just as we (and I) could find the same comfort in Waititi, he of Jewish-Maori descent.  So, am I just unable to appreciate the kind of intentionally-skewed-humor I found so delightful in The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017; review in our March 21, 2018 posting)?  Maybe I’m as hypocritical as I denounce Roy Cohn as being in the review below; maybe I just don’t get all the nuances Waititi intends here; maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on possible-misguided-responses to seemingly-harmless-Nazis (but not all of them act that way in this film, for sure) or unintended-acceptance of grotesque Jewish stereotypes without focusing as I should on the intended celebration of reunited humanity the ending provides (my often-more-empathetic-to-human-triumphs wife, Nina—certainly more so than too-often-cynical-for-my-own-good me—was highly satisfied with Jojo Rabbit, largely because of this final message of acceptance personified by Jojo and Elsa, so if you’d prefer a more embracing-delight-attitude toward this film, rest assured she’d provide you with one if she chose to go through the tedious hassle of review-writing [she’s devoting her time to the impeachment hearings anyway]).

*In an analysis of a scene (11:42) Waititi and comic-collaborator Stephen Merchant very playfully explore how this aspect of the film was conceived and executed, focusing on the absurd elements put into action (prior to the dramatic tension occurring when Elsa comes in, pretending to be Inge).

Bottom Line Final Comments: I guess I’m verging on joining the OCCU this week, trying to find a compromise between acceptance and ambivalence with my 3½ stars rating, as the critical community as a whole leans more in a CCAL direction with a healthy 79% collection of positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes but a less-embracing 58% average score from Metacritic, putting me more in league with them (those folks usually have lower numbers than the basic thumbs-up/thumbs-down RT tally, possibly looking for the sort of nuance that greeted the The Producers in the late ‘60s with a combination of support and distain as explored in this 2001 article from The New York Times).  Audiences seem to be slowly warming up to this new film (yet there were few at our late Saturday afternoon suburban screening in Hayward, CA), which after being in release for a month has now jumped up to 798 domestic (U.S.-Canada) theaters—it may well be in or coming to a venue near(er) you—even as its total gross is still puny, $9.7 million domestically, $11.5 million worldwide, compared to last-weekend’s champs (Midway [Roland Emmerich] with $21.1 domestic millions [another $455 thousand internationally], Doctor Sleep [Mike Flanagan]—sequel to horror-classic The Shining [Stanley Kubrick, 1980]—taking in $15.7 million domestically, $35.7 million worldwide), but its presence is gradually growing despite its oddball premise, potential buzz-kill content, some scathing reviews to offset the supportive ones.  Overall, I’ll recommend it because of its healing-intentions and dramatic audacity, although I’d hope you can decide from what I’ve shared about it whether its approach (as well as potentially-debatable-content) would be fitting for your tastes or not.  I think I’ve pounded it into the ground enough for now, though, leading to closure with my usual tactic of a Musical Metaphor to put a cap on all that’s gone before, but this time I’ll give you 2 to reflect the dual nature of this challenging venture.  We’ll start with the lavish “Springtime for Hitler” stage production from the original movie of The Producers (the opening salvo from the play-within-a-film, Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden) at where down-on-his-luck-former-Broadway-impresario Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and his accountant-accomplice Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) have attempted to construct the biggest disaster they can imagine as they’ve vastly oversold shares in the show hoping to abscond with the cash when audience rejection quickly closes the atrocity, this clip used to honor Waititi’s similar attempts at using Nazis for comic effect.  (Oh, one thing you don’t have to worry about in Jojo ... is subtitles because while anything we see written is in German all the dialogue’s in English, although adult characters continue the standard-Hollywood-trope of speaking with a German accent but not the younger characters, at least to my aging ears.).

 Then, as with the accomplishments of Brooks and Waititi, I’ll offer another well-known, well-respected Jewish voice to comment on the more serious aspect of this film, Bob Dylan’s*Dear Landlord” (from the 1967 John Wesley Harding album) at wqltUKgY (live performance from a 2003 London concert, lyrics if you like [or if necessary] under the YouTube screen) in recognition of Elsa’s situation with Rosie as her actual “landlord” although Jojo wants to be more active in that role, so as Elsa has various negotiations with him there’s a plea: “Dear landlord Please don’t put a price on my soul My burden is heavy My dreams are beyond control.”  However, as both a Jew and a German she knows how her country was often in dire straits following its defeat in WW I (“I know you’ve suffered much”), yet now the burden’s on people like her, even with German heritage (“But in this you are not so unique”).  All she wants is to safe, allowed to live her life as best her choices can sustain her without death hovering over her from the genocidal policies of her countrymen—“And if you don’t underestimate me I won’t underestimate you”—even though it takes the reconsidered-mind of a child, Jojo, for her to finally find an ongoing companion at war’s end, with so much of what she once knew now forcefully taken away by thugs.

*You’re going to find Dylan also dominating the Musical Metaphor in the review of Where's My Roy Cohn? below, but with the active Jewish content in these 2 films under exploration this week I felt it reasonable to address them with music from a prominent Jewish voice, especially one with a Nobel Prize to his name, whose chosen songs here say exactly what I want to convey about these films (with Brooks relevant too, in that he wrote the lyrics for “Springtime for Hitler” [as well as the rest of The Producers, in addition to lyrics and music for the added numbers in the 2001 theatrical adaptation, carrying over to that play’s 2005 re-adaptation back to film]).  I guess I should have worked Leonard Cohen in here somehow as well, but nothing came to me …  except each of these main characters (even Roy Cohn) at times are “like a bird on the wire [… who] have tried in my way to be free [… although there were probably few to whom Cohn would say] if I have been untrue I hope you know it was never to you.”  (From "Bird on the Wire" on the 1969 album Songs from a Room—well, damn, I got Leonard in there after all!  At least I made one clear decision for this week.)
SHORT TAKES (spoilers could also appear here, 
but none are noted this time because it's all public record already)
Where’s My Roy Cohn? (Matt Tyrnauer)   rated PG-13

An informative doc about a long-dead, ruthless lawyer who first showed his venom helping Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair, then aided Sen. McCarthy in the 1950s Red Scare, followed by representing mobsters and other crooks, such as up-and-coming real-estate-tycoon Donald Trump; it's all well done yet so constantly disgusting.

Here’s the trailer:

 A tactic often used in this documentary from the start shows a visual of an audiotape player, verbal responses from Roy Cohn being interviewed with a text of what’s said scrolling onto the screen, the most telling quote for me being his claim: “I hate hypocrisy.”  I suppose you could argue he was being honest as his actions were always in line with his rigid attitudes of win at all costs, never back down, lie when beneficial, respond to difficulties by going on the attack; yet—as explored in this uncompromising biography of a vicious man—he was hypocritical in terms of presenting himself as a patriotic American only concerned with bringing justice to his beleaguered clients when his real motives were to run roughshod over anyone who opposed him, to find any workable strategy to secure the most favorable verdicts/outcomes for his clients no matter the reality of their crimes (he once secured for Mob boss John Gotti a minor 2-year-prison-sentence on a substantially-lesser-charge even though the guy had committed premeditated murder in a public place), along with his constant denials about being gay although we get testimony here from a former boyfriend about Cohn’s sexual preferences along with the cruel fate of Roy’s 1986 death from AIDS (just after being disbarred in NY for unethical and unprofessional conduct).  Those who found Cohn alluring in various ways included short-term-fiancée Barbara Walters (seemingly a public cover for Roy’s true amorous interests) and former Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan (the latter helped to the Presidency in 1980, according to this film, by Cohn orchestrating John Anderson to run as an Independent thereby siphoning off some Democratic support, delivering NY Electoral College votes to Ronnie).  Ultimately, though, you probably don’t learn much from this film you couldn’t easily find from extensive biographies of this terrible man. (In my opinion, although there are certain current newsmakers/politicians who never tire of stating their admiration for him, especially campaign-dirty-tricks-master Roger Stone [now on trial for activities revealed by the Mueller investigation:  witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and lying to Congress], interviewed a good bit in this doc, along with one-time-real-estate-client Donald Trump [Cohn was his lawyer early on in Trump’s career, helping him avoid a loss in a housing-discrimination-suit with an out-of-court-settlement, somewhat brought about by counter-suing the government; ending graphics tell us Trump refused several requests to be interviewed for this film, even though his lament about not having someone of this hungry-shark-mentality to guide him through his Presidency provides the film’s title—I guess maybe he hopes he’s now found his “Roy Cohn” in some blend of Rudy Giuliani and William Barr]).  

 With the kind of company (possibly excepting Walters), Roy Cohn would not be someone I’d likely be inclined-favorably toward just on general principles, but when you get the details on his life-work specifics, he's intolerable, no matter how fawning some admirers may be.  We get all the details we need here, from his birth in the Bronx in 1927 to upstanding-Jews-in-the-community Judge Albert and Dora Cohn, a mother who seemingly faced a paradox of smothering him with affection (leaving quite a hole in Roy’s guaranteed-emotional-support upon her death in 1967) while lamenting he wasn’t the handsome son she’d hoped for.  Characterized by the filmmakers and testifiers as a self-hating-Jew desperate for success, celebrity, social dominance, Cohn was recognized as brilliant, graduating Columbia Law School at age 20 (forced to wait a year before being admitted to the bar), finding himself on the 1951 U.S. prosecution team trying alleged spies for the Soviet Union Julius and Ethel Rosenberg ([illegally] influential with the judge in securing death sentences even though charges of gross improprieties about the trial emerged later), then serving as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy hunting down Communists (and homosexuals, ironically joined in this pursuit by [secretly cross-dressing, likely-gay] FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover) during the 1950s Red Scare culminating with the famed 1954 Army-McCarthy Hearings intended to hassle the Army about their not-as-preferred-as-Cohn-wanted-treatment for his close friend (probably more) draft-inductee G. David Schine with more Commie-accusations, but when public sentiment turned sour on McCarthy Cohn sought his fame elsewhere, especially with unscrupulous businessmen and mobsters for whom he was a trustworthy “hired gun,” also beloved by the press because he made such deliciously-scandalous-copy (even wrote some of it himself, serving as his own publicist, padding his celebrity profile), although one of the most infuriating things I learned is how he helped Trump in 1983 use 200 undocumented Polish immigrants to tear down a department store, build Trump Tower (they didn’t even get paid).  Lots of useful info’s packed into this riveting doc, although at only 97 min. I wanted more, including some mention of a fictionalized-Cohn as a major character in Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (part 1, Millennium Approaches [1991], part 2, Perestroika [1992]; followed by the 2003 HBO mini-series adaptation, Al Pacino as Roy) plus at least some commentary on Stone’s legal troubles resulting from actions he learned from Cohn, but maybe Tyrnauer had no access to materials about the former, left it to us to draw our own conclusions on the latter.  Overall, I was impressed with what I saw, found it well-researched, clear in concept, but I wasn’t as fully impacted by the final result as I had wanted to be.

 Maybe I’m just so disgusted by Cohn and all he sadly-but-proudly stood for (as well as how I’m constantly infuriated by the antics of former-client/corrupted-acolyte Trump, which I’m now better-informed than ever on how influential Roy Cohn was on our current Manipulator/Liar/"Emperor"-In-Chief) I can’t be objective enough on what this unrelenting documentary accomplishes (even as I knew I wouldn’t like the content no matter how much I might be impressed by the fimmaking, a reason why it took me so long to finally get around to seeing it).  Essentially, all I can say is the level of disgust is likely quite high here for anyone who hopes (however desperately) for integrity in the legal, business, and political professions, even as the means of presentation is generally quite effective in its constant barrage of short segments mixing historical markers, commentary by Cohn, commentary about Cohn from a wide variety of speakers (most of whom have little positive to say about him), with the evidence presented useful enough to make the director’s point without having to resort to any voiceover or on-camera narration to verify what our takeaway should be.  The CCAL’s been quite supportive offering 86% positive reviews at RT, a 70% average MC score (reasonably high for them) although it’s fast disappearing after having been out for 8 weeks, now playing in just 30 domestic theaters (it never got higher than 66) with total ticket sales at the measly level of about $675 thousand, so any interest you have here will probably best be served with a later search for video options (I’m just hoping—in my truly partisan manner—that a year from now after the impeachment hearings and votes, followed by the 2020 elections there’ll be little need for interest in anything about Roy Cohn or one of his most notorious followers except maybe passing curiosity about historical garbage such as this).  I’ll now do my best to purge myself of the memory of Cohn with a couple of apt statements from Bob Dylan, the first being the ... Cohen?'s Musical Metaphor, “Positively 4th Street” (a hit single in 1965, then on the first volume of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits [1967] and other compilations) at BSo (YouTube has some live options, but I prefer the biting attitude of the original recording, especially at the end with “I wish that for just one time You could stand inside my shoes And just for one moment I could be you […] You’d know what a drag it is To see you”) along with a quick reference to another finale, this one from "Masters of War" (on his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan): “And I’ll stand over your grave ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.”  Goodbye for good, Roy.
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Here’s more information about Jojo Rabbit: (11:06 video on 10 reasons critics are divided about this film including previous satires on Nazis, current events about the ongoing rise of neo-Nazis in the West [broken up by short ads at about 4:00, 7:00, and 10:00] questions about what’s truly funny, whether the content is more anti-Semitic than it intends to be, whether its satire is harsh enough, can a funny Hitler be a useful device?)

Here’s more information about Where’s My Roy Cohn?: (34:48 exploration of this film, Roger Stone, and Roy Cohn)

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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.)

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 28,570 (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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