Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hope Gap plus Short Takes on suggestions for TCM cable offerings and other cinematic topics

Marriage: Use Properly Before Expiration Date
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) when they’re supportive or the OCCU (Often Cranky Critics Universe) when they go negative.
                Hope Gap  (William Nicholson)   rated PG-13
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been fighting with varying levels of (debatable) modern technology, resulting in a new hot water heater, a new computer (which is still being analyzed for some odd behavior so I’ve got the old one back as a loaner—only froze up on me once), a new cordless phone system (a “land line” for the condo which works fine when plugged into the old, actual land line jack rather than the special DSL jack it’s supposed to connect with), wireless TV transmission difficulties, and even a bucket of ice from the freezer launching itself onto the kitchen floor, all of which have extended my production/posting time of recent blog entries into the not-so-wee-hours of Thursday mornings, so this time I’m just focusing on one review from a streaming source even though there were a couple of other possible options which may make an appearance in the near future.  For now, though, I present Hope Gap (an odd-but-ultimately-appropriate-title) about an English seaside couple (not in Dover but a locale with its own white cliffs) who’ve been married for 29 years but in recent times they’ve grown apart with her (Annette Bening) wanting more interactivity with him (Bill Nighy) even as he’s withdrawing as an aspect of his decision to become involved with another woman, leaving the couple’s adult son in the quandary of trying to be supportive of each parent even as tensions mount between them; it’s a somber, quiet story with superb acting, no easy resolution (available on Amazon Prime for $9.99).  Also, in Short Takes I’ll offer suggestions for some worthwhile choices on the Turner Classic Movies channel (but too much text for full-line-justified-layout like what you see here, at least to be done by this burned-out-BlogSpot-posting-guy—tedious software!) plus my usual dose of industry-related-trivia, so join me now for a bleak trip into this couple’s refusal of marital-therapy.

Here’s the trailer:
                   (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate 
                   that same button or use the “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 open with voiceover narration from Jamie (Josh O’Connor), adult son of Grace (Annette Bening) and Edward (Bill Nighy), about how he treasured his childhood walks with Mom from the steep cliffs of their English seaside home down to the deserted-shore called Hope Gap.  Now he lives farther away but is coming home for a visit, preceded by scenes of his parents squabbling: Grace complains to Edward he puts all of his energy into teaching his students about Napoleon’s failed attempt to conquer Russia (the French forces submitting to horrid conditions of those cruel times, required to take a bitter retreat) or obsessively fact-checking Wikipedia instead of devoting time, attention, sharing of his inner life with her; even when he claims he’s tried she rejects his response, making her appear (at least to me. initially, but more on that later) to be a vicious, frustrated, despondent spouse while he seems to be holding back from making an honest effort to respond to her needs, even after 29 years of marriage.  So, when Jamie arrives their greeting’s rather muted, devolving into an argument that night which results in Grace slapping Edward, him sullenly going to bed, her upending the kitchen table, Jamie coming to see what’s wrong.  Mom tells Son about her sense of being in a poem, "Sudden Light" (Dante Gabriel Rossetti [1863]), beginning with the lines “I have been here before But when or how I cannot tell,” which speaks to her about a joyous past, elusive now as she despairs over a growing sense of distance between herself and Edward which he just refuses to explore/conquer with her, instead withdrawing into himself.  (Grace is drawn to poems, having written many of them over the years, not yet attempting publication, would call the collection "I Have Been Here Before.")  Jamie also disappoints her in that he’s given up on church attendance even as she (but not Edward) continues to go to local Catholic services.  Soon we get another revelation in another private conversation, Dad to Son: Edward’s fallen in love with Angela (Sally Rogers), the mother of one of his students, enough so he’s decided to leave Grace; further, he wants Jamie to help him break the news, but he refuses, goes out for a walk when Edward finally confronts his wife with the truth of his realigned-interests (he feels he has a natural connection with Angela, doesn’t have to work at sharing affection, admits to Jamie he met Grace years before when he boarded the wrong train, then got into a relationship he assumed was stronger than it actually was, sensed long ago this wasn’t the right choice for him but never told Grace about those feelings).  She, naturally, is stunned by his admission, says the marriage was better when Jamie was little, wants to keep working on it; he doesn’t, says he’s firm in his decision.

 After abruptly moving out, Edward visits Jamie at his son's home, tells him he had to get a new phone number because Grace kept calling him every day wanting to reconcile.  She also wants her son to help her save the marriage but Jamie—hurt as he is by the whole situation—keeps trying to stay neutral which angers her at times because she expects him to join her in rejecting Edward’s actions (curiously, she also gets an affectionate dog, names him Edward, leading to some mild Freudian-questioning from Son to Mom, no clear answers forthcoming).  Edward (husband, that is; the dog hasn’t learned to talk yet) sends Grace divorce papers, asking her to sign them and get it over with, but she insists on hashing it out in person so they both (along with Jamie—and the dog) meet in Solicitor Peter Whitacomb’s (Steven Pacey) office where Grace barges past the secretary who fails to convince the now-raging-woman dogs aren’t allowed, then questions whether the settlement being offered is less than she’d get as a widow.  The attorney replies her assessment’s correct, to which Grace says she’d rather be a widow than a divorcée, implying at this point she’d just as soon have Edward dead than in her life at all (she further tries to badger him with the Catholic stance that marriage is for life, he can’t really divorce her anyway, but that argument means little to him), then storms out.    As part of her new life, though, she’s volunteering at a phone-in-help-center called Friendline, yet I’m not sure how empathic she is with all callers due to her new stance most men are pigs.  ⇒Later, Jamie goes to visit her, finds her out on the steep cliffs, runs to her in fear she’s considering suicide, but tells her he’d accept that decision if she’ll alert him first because he doesn’t want Grace keeping herself alive just for his sake; they talk, with him admitting he’s sees himself as the problem of why his relationships haven’t worked out so far (like Edward, she replies), eventually he tries to get her to publish her poetry on the Internet which doesn’t seem to interest her all that much.  As this increasingly-grim-story reaches its climax, Edward’s now living with Angela when Grace barges in one day in yet another attempt to restore the marriage, berates Angela a bit—who responds with her decision to be with Edward, leaving only 1 person unhappy rather than all 3 of them, then throws Grace out.  Edward runs after her, offering to remain friends, but she rejects the idea, drives away.  We end with Jamie showing some young folks a poetry Website he’s established where visitors can find works speaking to their interests/needs (not clear to me if Grace’s poems are part of this database), then giving us final (poetic) voiceover about what strengths he’s gained from his parents as the camera sweeps across Hope Gap's rugged terrain.⇐

So What? The 3 principal actors provide reason enough to see this film just to appreciate their command of craft; Bening especially is at her usual level of excellence, getting a chance here to show a wider range of reactions than in her role of CA Sen. Diane Feinstein in The Report (Scott Z. Burns, 2019; review in our May 7, 2020 posting), although she was very plausible there; it’s just my long-term Senator usually projects a public image of calm, restrained expression (I have no idea what she’s like in private) so Bening never had much opportunity there to explode into snarkiness or despair as she does in Hope Gap.  In this new story she also produces such a well-rehearsed-British-accent in complement to Nighy’s natural one that at times of minor-distraction (more likely for me when watching a 47” screen in my condo living room than being in a true moviehouse with a visually-engulfing-image—as best I can now remember what that’s like) I’d swear I’m watching native-Brit-Emma Thompson (some critics I cite just below don’t agree about her accent quality nor much of anything else regarding this film) as well as being involved in a plot you don’t often see on screen where an older couple find themselves increasingly disconnected after many years together. 

 Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1973) explores this situation extremely well, although with characters not as old as those in Hope Gap, but that’s hardly a current cinematic experience, plus, unless you speak Swedish, there’s that old bugaboo of subtitles to contend with. (I’ve seen so many Bergman films in that manner I almost trick myself into thinking I understand his characters in their native language; for a twist on that, some years ago my wife, Nina Kindblad [of Swedish heritage herself via her difficult-to-genealogically-trace-great-grandfather, Gustav Kindblad], and I were in Sweden where we wandered into a moviehouse to see Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle [McG, 2003] with the usual situation reversed so we were hearing the original English dialogue as Swedish subtitles were on-screen, again allowing a semi-conscious-thought of fluency in both languages [or maybe actively-sampling the box of cheap—but tasty—Spanish wine we had earlier in the day helped such an assumption]).  However, despite the fine qualities Hope Gap presents in its own existence, it takes on even deeper meaning when you listen to screenwriter-director Nicholson (second item connected to this film in the Related Links section of this posting much farther below) explain how this story’s autobiographically-inspired with him the child of parents whose marriage fell apart years into their union, generating hurt and hostility, his mother never seeking another partner, living on her memories of being with his father, even as Dad continued with his new love for years yet never divorced Mom (this narrative first emerged as a play, The Retreat from Moscow [1999], which opened on Broadway in 2003 starring John Lithgow, Eileen Atkins, and Ben Chaplin).

 Therefore, a lot of actual-family-pain’s being explored here even though there’s no way from the film for audiences to be aware of such a background, unless it’s mentioned in a review (seem to be unlikely).It’s a very personal story after all, despite its easy universal applications to anyone who’s ever encountered divorce (me included; decades ago, fortunately) with all the mixed feelings, anger, confusion that usually results from such trauma.  Speaking of personal stories, though, I must say the deteriorating relationship between Grace and Edward reminds me of one of my own attempted-romantic-involvements years ago which dragged on far beyond my interest but for various reasons I felt compelled to stick with it even though the morning dew dried up within a couple of months; in that situation, I found my significant (but not nearly enough, as it turned out) other acting a lot like Grace, who often demanded more attention, investment, and passion from Edward, yet when he claimed he’d tried to offer such she angrily accused him of being a liar so one level it seems the poor guy just can’t win.  However, their marriage is complicated by the reality that (not unlike my abandoned-attempt at that distant-connection) he’d long ago decided they were too different to really meld, that he’d simply gotten on the wrong train one day (literally, but a nice metaphor too), met Grace, made the wrong assumption they’d function well as a couple, has since given up on finding that magic but meets Angela who does resonate well with him without needing forced effort for the linkage (of course, she’s new in his life; after some years together will this second pairing continue to work out better than his first?), so it’s true he’s not giving Grace what she wants but he no longer has the desire—let alone the inclination—to do so, with this combination of her insistence, his disengagement leaving them no choice except a breakup, especially with Angela accepting the hopelessness of Edward’s dead marriage even while Grace becomes furiously determined to resurrect it (fortunately, in my similar situation, we did eventually drift apart—geographic distancing after I moved from Texas to California helped—married other partners, with me hoping she’s still as happy now as I’ve been for over 30 years with Nina [my ex even invited me to her wedding, held at the Hall of State at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas]).  By the end of her ordeal on screen Grace still longs for Edward although she’s now bitterly wishing they’d never met, but she has little recourse except solace offered by Jamie who's not giving up on either parent.

*A quick skim of some Rotten Tomatoes critics I’m familiar with and respect show only the ones from Rolling Stone and Variety noting this real-life-connection while those from the Chicago Sun-Times, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, and don’t mention it.  (Those last 3 also didn’t care much for the film as a whole).

Bottom Line Final Comments:  As screenwriter-director Nicholson (a prolific novelist/ playwright/scriptwriter [nominated for many awards including a Tony for The Retreat from Moscow as Best Play, Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, Shadowlands {Richard Attenborough, 1993—from Nicholson’s play of the same name}, Best Original Screenplay, Gladiator {Ridley Scott, 2000}]) seems to have held little back about his personal traumas when his parents went their separate ways so many years ago, as he's a bit elderly himself now (with Jamie’s VOs at the film’s beginning and end making clear his love for both of them even as he refused to actively take sides—although the narration does seem to favor Grace a bit overall), he also sets the story in the scenic locale of Seaford, Sussex county, England (an area which was an ancient kingdom of its own) on the southeast shores of the country, a town right on the English Channel sporting its own white cliffs (similar to the more-famous-ones a bit further east in Dover*) and beach known as Hope Gap (fascinating name, but I can’t find any info on its origin), not far from his actual upbringing in Lewes, also in East Sussex but more inland.  It’s rare we see something fictional that’s so well-invested in the history it portrays without delving into necessary dramatic additions needed to tell a more-crisp-story, but like The Report (noted above) this film also seems to deviate little from the facts of its origin, bringing us into the fractures of a relationship that might best not ever have happened.  (Like what I assumed of the one of mine noted above—along with my short, failed marriage even earlier—but as Nina, my now-successful-soulmate of several decades, reminds me often, everything we experience helps shape who we are today so we’re probably better off having gone through the heartbreaks, enduring their aftermaths, if we’ve evolved into someone better [another universal aspiration, at least in our hopes] as a result; as she also often says: “What did you learn from this?”)

*At one point in Hope Gap, at Jamie’s flat, we see him watching an old American movie on TV, The White Cliffs of Dover (Clarence Brown, 1944) about World Wars I and II in England, a story featuring its own family tragedies (a big hit in its day in the U.S., starring Irene Dunne, Roddy McDowell, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lawford, June Lockhart, among others, although I'll admit I’ve never seen it).

 I wish I could say Hope Gap achieved some level of universal acclaim, but the CCAL consensus seems to be no better than the 5 of 8 positives I cited above, with Rotten Tomatoes critics giving it an equivalent 63% positive reviews, the folks at Metacritic almost even (but, as frequently-usual for them, lower) with a 58% average score (making my 4 stars considerably higher, demonstrating how much "above average" I truly am, as you well know).  However, we don’t know much about its financial success because while it opened on domestic (U.S.-Canada) screens (a maximum of 132 during a 2-week-run before the 2020 Great Shutdown) back on March 6, 2020 it was able to raise only about $105,000 at the box-office plus another $5,000 in Australia when the cinemas generally went dark.  I hope you might find interest in Hope Gap (an appropriate title, not just for the locale but also for Grace’s lack of optimism in rescuing her marriage after Edward opened up to her in a manner she least expected), just to see Bening in her prime; of course, you’ll have to fork over $9.99 to Amazon Prime (for 48 hrs. access so plan your viewing when you purchase), but there are worse ways to spend 10 bucks if you don’t mind seeing how miserable people can make each other.  To cap this off as usual with a Musical Metaphor I’ll go appropriately to Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” (from her enormously-best-selling 1971 Tapestry album) at watch?v=VkKxmnrRVHo so you can experience the original (even though Ms. King only wrote the music; another woman, Toni Stern, penned the lyrics), but because Hope Gap has Edward lowering the curtain on the relationship I’ll give you another version, by Isaac Hayes (from his 1973 Live at the Sahara Tahoe album; I have no idea what the image accompanying this video’s all about), so you can also experience the sense of closure as voiced from the male perspective (while Grace would like to think it’s never too late, even though she no longer knows “just what to do Now you look so unhappy and I feel like a fool”) because he’s had to accept, for him at least, “Something inside has died and I can’t hide And I just can’t fake it.”  No matter who makes the decision—especially when not mutual—of “it’s too late Though we really did try to make it,” it’s devastating, even when ultimately agreed on, a painful time in anyone’s life from junior-high puppy-love to ages-together-commitments when “there can be no denying” that, at last, "It's Over" (sorry, Carol, I had to get Roy Orbison [from his 1964 More of Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits album] in here as well, even as he gives us a final twist on the theme with a male voice telling about the woman who calls it off).
SHORT TAKES (no review this time, no spoilers to worry about)
 As noted far above, after writing way too much for the past couple of weeks this time I decided to dial it back, just do one review, but that doesn’t mean I’m not watching a lot of other stuff, including the marvelous Netflix fictional series Hollywood, about the difficulties of being Black (aspiring screenwriter plus an underused actress) or gay (focus on a fictionalized Rock Hudson) in Tinseltown right after WW II, along with a broadcast of The Producers (Mel Brooks, 1967), about the difficulties of a couple of con men manufacturing a flop on Broadway for their financial gain from overselling to investors even with the most repulsive concept they can come up with (Springtime for Hitler: A Gay [but not like Mr. Hudson] Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden) which aired on my local PBS station (KQED, San Francisco) for the last 2 Saturday nights (sorry for anyone who lives nearby but the replay option’s already gone), walking a fine line between hilarious satire and deeply-offensive-references (works for me as one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, given its Jewish creator figuring out a way to laugh at Nazis, but, honestly, I was on board when “noted” show-magnate Max Bialystock [Zero Mostel] says to accountant Leo Bloom [Gene Wilder] in explaining his financial crisis: “I’m wearing a cardboard belt!”; after that, I’d have accepted anything Brooks had to offer here; it goes on to be a smash hit as an actual musical on Broadway [Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, 2001, winner of 12 Tony awards], then there’s a musical movie [director: Susan Stroman; producers: Brooks and Jonathan Sanger; 2005] based on the play [Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the lead roles in both these later adaptations]).  So, there are multiple options for enjoying this silly story, but you’d have to rent the original movie to best share my glee (only $3.99 on several platforms; see the JustWatch link below for details if interested); however, if you’d prefer something you’re likely already paying for on your cable system let’s shift over to TCM’s options for next week (although I heartedly advocate The Producers, just to take your tired mind off COVID-19).
Suggestions for TCM cablecasts
At least until the pandemic subsides Two Guys also want to encourage you to consider movies you might be interested in that don’t require subscriptions to Netflix, Amazon Prime, similar Internet platforms (we may well be stuck inside for longer than those 30-day free initial offers), or premium-tier-cable-TV-fees.  While there are a good number of video networks offering movies of various sorts (mostly broken up by commercials), one dependable source of fine cinematic programming is Turner Classic Movies (available in lots of basic-cable-packages) so I’ll be offering suggestions of possible choices for you running from Thursday afternoon of the current week (given that I usually get this blog posted by early Thursday mornings) on through Thursday morning of the following week.  All times are U.S. Eastern Daylight so if you see something of interest please verify actual show time in your area for the day listed.  These recommendations are particular favorites (no matter what time they’re on, although some early-day-ones might need to be recorded, watched later), but there’s considerably more to pick from on TCM; feel free to peruse their entire schedule.

Thursday May 21, 2020

11:30 PM Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) Marvelous film noir co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler about a scheming housewife (Barbara Stanwyck) working with a shady insurance salesman (Fred McMurray) to kill her husband, but a claims adjuster (Edward G. Robinson) smells a rat (it inspired Body Heat [Lawrence Kasdan, 1981] many decades later).

Saturday May 23, 2020

4:00 AM Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977) Lynch is also scriptwriter, producer, editor as well as compiling the score and sound design so its about as auteuristic as you can get; also epitomizes grotesque surrealism, leading to various analytical options (assuming you can stand watching it) about its visions of a confused father, a grotesque child, who knows what else.  A true cult classic.

8:00 PM Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) TCM ran this about a month ago, so I’ll just repeat my previous blurb: Do you really need to know what this one’s about?  If so, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre are all “looking at you, kid,” to catch up, now!   (This one truly defines my idea of a 5 stars-“classic.”)

Monday May 25, 2020 (Memorial Day Marathon)

12:30 AM Wings (William A. Wellman, 1927) A masterpiece of silent cinema (music soundtrack and intertitles provided), won the first Best Picture Oscar (only silent film to do so, plus another trophy for Engineering Effects—now called Visual Effects), focuses on aviation battles in WW I, stars screen legends of the time Clara Bow and Charles “Buddy” Rogers (Gary Cooper’s in there also).

8:00 PM The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946) Another Best Picture Oscar winner (along with a cluster of others including Best Director, Actor [Frederic March], Supporting Actor [Harold Russell], Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, plus an Honorary Oscar to Russell, an actual WW II vet amputee), focused on the difficulties of 3 returning G.I’s each with individual problems (a marvelous example of deep-focus-cinematography by Gregg Toland; I once got a chance to talk directly to Wyler about his intentions with this visual style).

Tuesday May 26, 2020

1:00 AM Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978) A powerful drama about the Vietnam war as a military wife (Jane Fonda) grows emotionally distant from her Marine husband (Bruce Dern) who’s still in 
the field while she becomes disenchanted with the war, then finds herself attracted to a paraplegic vet (Jon Voight) as interpersonal tensions increase within this triangle.  Won well-deserved Oscars for Best Actress (Fonda), Actor (Voight), Original Screenplay (Waldo Salt, Robert C. Jones).

10:15 PM Lady Sings the Blues (Sidney J. Furie, 1972) A docudrama about jazz legend Billie Holiday (Diana Ross) with her grand talent in constant battle with repeated violence/arrogance/ racism against her, resulting in drug abuse which frequently undermined her career, contributed 
to her early death.  Also stars Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor; if nothing else, I encourage 
you to watch/appreciate this modern approach to a musical for Ross’ marvelous singing.

Wednesday May 27, 2020

1:00 AM Funny Girl (William Wyler, 1968) Docudrama of Broadway legend Fanny Brice (movie based on a successful play) with Barbra Streisand in the lead (her screen debut) winning an Oscar as Best Actress (tied that year with Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter). Nice double-feature with Lady Sings the Blues, as Fanny has a more successful career but an equally-tough love life due to troubles from husband Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif).  As with Ross, Streisand’s singing is terrific.

Thursday May 28, 2020

2:30 AM The Wild One (Làszló Benedek) Not of the overall qualities of the above options this one’s notable for Marlon Brando’s iconic role as the leader of a motorcycle gang; in a town where bikers have taken up temporary residence a woman asks him “What are you rebelling against, Johnny?” 
to which he replies “Whaddaya got?”  Lee Marvin’s the rival gang leader who feuds with Brando.

4:00 AM Beach Blanket Bingo (William Asher, 1965) OK, I’m totally abandoning quality in favor of camp for this intentionally-silly entry (#5!) in the “Beach Party” series with an absurd plot but a lot 
of memorable stars of the time—Linda Evans, Paul Lynde, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Don Rickles (plus Buster Keaton!)—and another memorable bad-boy-biker, Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck).  I'd say record this goofiness rather than staying up late for it (unless you're stoned).

If you’d like your own PDF of ratings/summaries of this week's reviews, suggestions for TCM cablecasts, links to Two Guys info click this link to access then save, print, or whatever you need.
Other Cinema-Related Stuff: In quick fashion, here are some other items you might find some interest in: (1) 25 must-watch movies coming this summer (via streaming, Video On Demand, and long-awaited [maybe just anticipated, though] theatrical openings); (2) About 200 U.S. theaters have recently reopened, mostly drive-ins; (3) 2021 Oscar awards ceremony may be postponed.  As usual for now I’ll close out this section with Joni Mitchell’s "Big Yellow Taxi" (from her 1970 Ladies of the Canyon album)—because “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”—and a reminder you can search streaming/rental/purchase movie options at JustWatch.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

Here’s more information about Hope Gap: (23:58 interview with screenwriter-director William Nicholson, producer David Thompson, and actor Annette Bening [early on the audio 
level drops considerably for a short time but the Closed Captions option—lower-right button 
on the video screen—worked well for me, then the level comes up again for most of the time])

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 36,962 (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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