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Friday, April 2, 2021

Reviews in the Time of Coronavirus (7)

Mike Nichols: A Life

I like to say I’ve been a fan of Mike Nichols since I saw the Graduate, one of my favorite films of all time, but after reading this book, I have to admit I found I was not as fully aware of the breadth of his film efforts and, particularly, his stage work, for which he’s won 9 Tonys (in fact, he’s an EGOT!).

I was already familiar with most of the broad outlines of his biography as a Jewish refugee from Europe, a groundbreaking improv and skit comedian with his comedy team partner-in-crime Elaine May, and a film director. But this book, written by Mark Harris—who also wrote the terrific Pictures at a Revolution and Five Came Back—showed me the full breadth of his work, encompassing pictures he directed that I’ve seen and/or had forgotten, such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Silkwood, and the Birdcage. And there were several I was shocked I had never heard of (or didn’t recall) like Day of the Dolphin, Wolf, and the Fortune!

But it was the breadth of his theater work that was a revelation, ranging from “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Odd Couple” in the 1960s (pairing with Neil Simon on several occasions) to “Spamalot” in 2006.

Of special interest to me, of course, is his cartooning connection—one of the first plays he tackled as a director was by cartoonist Jules Fieffer, who discovered that Nichols and May were fans of his own work (upon seeing them on stage, Feiffer found them to be kindred spirits, doing work similar to his own “but better”). Nichols would later go on to direct the film, Carnal Knowledge, on which he had Feiffer on set for most of the shoot.

As I noted in my review a few years back of Feiffer’s memoir, Backing into Forward, Feiffer (and Nichols) grew up during a fascinating era in the 1950s and ‘60s when artists, entertainers and actors, intellectuals, playwrights, movie directors and, yes, cartoonists like Feiffer seemed to mingle and cross-pollinate. I’m not sure if this was a reflection of the era or particular to the New York City social scene, but Nichols’ friendships with Feiffer and others like Simon, Richard Avedon, Leonard Bernstein, Jackie Kennedy, Gloria Steinem and, as he transitioned to Hollywood, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (first befriending the former along with Julie Andrews when his show with Elaine May was at the Broadway theater next door to where Camelot played), Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Whoopi Goldberg and more demonstrate his wide circle of connections that span decades.

While for some reason I thought Nichols to be a genial sort, like a lot of gifted artists, his personal life and demons belie that. Born to an unloving mother, prone to depression and (most surprising) addicted to coke and crack at various times in his life, he could be cruel to actors and crew on set. Like many immigrants and performers, he also was someone who reinvented himself – a Russian-Jewish immigrant by way of Germany with the birth name of Igor Mikhail Peschkowsky, he escaped Germany before the Holocaust. As he faced his demons as he got older—internalizing his guilt as a Jew who escaped Europe before the Holocaust—Nichols found a measure of peace. This was due in large part to his happy marriage to television broadcaster Diane Sawyer, who generously worked to ensure he maintained a healthy relationship with his previous wife and children. I found the book to be a compelling read about a comedian and director who had a huge impact on both the film industry and stage, and the book offers fascinating glimpses into the art that went into this work, with plenty of great anecdotes about the great figures (and their eccentricities) of the time.

Some Nichols and May, in one of their most famous sketches:

Justice League: The Snyder Cut

Director Zack Snyder is a divisive figure among movie and comics fans. While I was incredibly impressed by his film adaptation of Watchmen, like many, I’ve been put off by his incredibly dark approach to the DC Comics film universe as reflected by Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a tone that has permeated many of DC’s other films. While it’s perhaps not fair to compare Marvel’s films to DC’s/Warner Brothers, Marvel has admirably built a franchise brand that exists as an interconnected and cohesive movie universe where the films share a common DNA yet still allow for a wide range of variety and expression, ranging from period pieces like Captain America: First Avenger, to political thrillers with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to near-comedies like Thor: Ragnarok and Ant-Man. It’s a world-building approach they are now expanding into their DisneyPlus streaming shows, such as WandaVision and Falcon and Winter Soldier. Ultimately, most of the Marvel films have a sense of fun and are great popcorn movies. Their success also is the result in the complete conviction and faith in the strength of their intellectual properties.

While DC’s characters are just as rich, without the single guiding hand of someone like Kevin Feige, DC has never shown the same conviction and belief in their characters and universe as Marvel did at the very outset. A case in hand is the fate of Justice League. After Snyder and his producer-wife left the project following the tragic suicide of his daughter, Warner Brothers Studio hired Joss Whedon, who played an early role in Marvel’s success, having directed the Avengers and Avengers 2, to complete the film. As it was eventually revealed, Whedon significantly revised and simplified Snyder’s script and vision, and it may have been partly the result of Warner Brothers getting cold feet (again) over the density of the mythology.

I won’t say that I disliked Whedon’s Justice League as some fans, but neither did it make much of an impression on me nor was I among those clamoring for the “Snyder Cut.” That said, now having seen it, I must agree it’s a somewhat better movie — while I’m still not convinced that Snyder’s dark somewhat joyless approach to the characters is the way to go, at least this film reflects his singular vision and it’s  better for it. Not only did he get a mulligan to improve the CGI design and character arc for the film’s original villain, Steppenwolf, but he gives him a richer back story and motivation (as opposed to simply wishing to take over the world); in fact, in this version, he is actually a low-level toady to an even bigger villain, Darkseid, that expands the DC film Universe further.

The film’s plot is also slightly re-jiggered, with Cyborg playing a more central role to the plot and having a clear character arc, which Whedon completely wrote this out of his version. We also see a little bit more of Superman and more of an origin background for Flash.

Of course to accomplish this, Snyder also made it a longer movie with a running length of 4 hours. For the most part though, the movie moves along, notwithstanding the excessive use of slow-mo.

But at least the Snyder Cut is finally out there for the world to see. While it doesn’t appear that Warner Brothers has any plans to continue the path that Snyder began with this movie – and tries to tease with epilogue scenes — at least his vision has been realized.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Reviews in the Time of Coronovirus (6)

The Dig

The Dig, which recently dropped on Netflix, is yet another quality period drama from the U.K., that the country does so well, featuring a cast of reliable and versatile British actors who move fluidly between period films like this and other film projects and genres: Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James.

Set in the back country of Great Britain on the eve of World War II, a self-taught but erudite archeologist named Basil Brown (Fiennes) is hired by a wealthy widow, Edith Pretty (Mulligan), to excavate some ancient mounds on her private property that she believes have historical significance. This leads to the discovery of a preserved ancient ship, believed to be the burial place of an Anglo-Saxon nobleman. As the significance of the discovery becomes clear, however, the British Museum moves in, initially pushing Brown aside.

This is just the backdrop, however, as the film also focuses on the people brought together by the discovery: Brown, the loner archeologist whose wife understands and supports his devotion to his work; Pretty, the lonely young widow who comes to respect and be attracted to Brown on some level, both because of their shared interest in archeology and history, but also because of the way he quickly becomes a father figure to her precocious son; and Peggy Piggott (James), with her husband (Ben Chaplin) on her first dig, who seems unavailable to her emotionally (not to mention sexually), and soon finds herself attracted to Pretty’s cousin, who is about to join the RAF as war looms.

Generally lowkey, in keeping with the famous British reserve, it is nevertheless a compelling film because it works on several levels and gently goes in directions you don’t expect, with many of the characters and their inner stories deftly told. There is an inherent loneliness to many of the characters, but they find ways to connect and find grace (and, in some cases, love), all connected by the central tale of the discovery. The "dig" is as much a metaphor for what the excavation brings out in the characters. 

It wasn’t until after I watched the film that I learned the Dig is, in fact, based on a real-life story, regarding the discovery of what is known as the Sutton Hoo collection, now housed at the British Museum, which is one of the U.K.’s greatest archeological discoveries. Brown, Pretty and Piggot are all real-life figures and while of course the film no doubt took creative liberties to give the characters an inner life and to serve the purposes of the story, the basic outlines of their lives are here intact.

As I said, it’s a quiet film, but it sneaks up on you and I found it’s stuck with me since I viewed it. Highly recommended.

Newsradio

It’s a crime that this sitcom—which ran from
1994–99 on NBC—is not better known or currently available in its entirety for bingeing on a streaming channel (I came across the first season on IMDB TV and ended up purchasing later seasons for streaming).

A workplace comedy about a group of misfits who work at a news radio station, it featured an ensemble cast of both experienced and upcoming actors, each playing to a tee well-defined eccentric characters that together made for a hilarious show that combined sharp witty writing with some physical humor. Headed by Dave Foley (from Kids in the Hall) as the station’s general manager who arrives in the first episode, the cast also includes Stephen Root (as the station owner), Andy Dick, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, and Khandi Alexander. Last but not least, anchoring the show was the great Phil Hartman, known as “The Glue” when he was on Saturday Night Live for his gift of holding the show together, a role he also undoubtedly played on Newsradio.

While the show ran a respectable 97 episodes and 5 seasons, and received critical attention, it nevertheless always existed on the cusp of cancellation, which was not helped by the network moving its time slot 11 times. Tragically, shortly after the show had received another reprieve and was renewed for its fifth season, Hartman was shot and murdered by his wife while he slept in his bed; addled by a mixture of antidepressants, alcohol and cocaine, after realizing what she had done, she turned the gun on herself a few hours later. Though the show continued its fifth season—with Hartman’s friend and SNL co-star Jon Lovitz taking his place—Newsradio was not the same show and it was cancelled after that season.

Nevertheless, the show remains solidly funny and timeless, occasionally veering into the slightly surreal, presaging sophisticated comedies to come like Arrested Development, but always grounded by its strong characters and the ensemble chemistry. Well worth a visit!

WandaVision

I have frequently credited Marvel for having faith in the strength of their characters and stories. Whereas rival DC Comics always focused primarily on their trinity of well known characters—Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman—believing that lesser or unknown characters would not attract an audience, Marvel built their movie universe on arguably B-list characters such as Iron Man and Captain America. Yes, Spider-Man and the Hulk eventually came into the fold, but they then continued their run with Thor, as well as characters with even lower profiles like Doctor Strange and Ant-Man, culminating with the Avenger films.

As a result, Marvel finds itself in the enviable position of having built a brand and level of trust that audiences will pretty much follow wherever the company takes them.

The Disney Plus streaming show, WandaVision, is a case in point. While audiences weren’t sure what to make of the first few episodes, which were basically homages to old TV shows like the Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched and the Brady Bunch (down to the opening credits and sets), Marvel patiently let the show play out before suddenly “opening up” the series and rewarding viewers by connecting it to the wider Marvel universe, bringing in minor characters previously introduced in earlier Marvel films like Thor and Ant-Man, and the more recent Captain Marvel. It’s said that WandaVision represents the start of the next phase of the Marvel universe (following Avengers: Endgame), so it’s exciting to see how the TV shows and films will begin to intertwine and further advance and enrich the world they’ve created.



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Cartoonist Shows You "How to Murder Your Wife"

When I was a kid, in the days before DVRs and even VCRs, the 1965 screwball sex comedy, How to Murder Your Wife, would occasionally pop up on local broadcast TV. (Of course, this was also in the days before cable and streaming.) Though I saw many classic films on TV growing up, How to Murder Your Wife was one I never managed to catch in its entirety. However, when I noticed the film become available on Amazon Prime recently, I added it to my queue and finally watched it.

The primary reason for my curiosity in this film is that it's about a successful cartoonist named Stanley Ford, played by the great Jack Lemmon, whose profession and comic strip in the film (an action-adventure secret agent series called Bash Brannigan) are integral to the story. The film was directed by journeyman director Richard Quine and written by screenwriter George Axelrod.

In addition to being a cartoonist man-about-town, Ford is a confirmed bachelor who keeps a man servant in residence named Charles (the great character actor Terry Thomas) and lives in a pretty cool upscale multi-level bachelor pad studio in Manhattan. The film is racy for it’s time and it’s why I call it a “sex comedy”—Ford is pretty successful with the ladies and Charles, rather creepily, revels in his employer’s romantic escapades. (I’m glad now I never caught this film when I was young or it would have given me very skewed expectations of life as a cartoonist!)

The film opens cleverly, with Ford, without explanation, in the middle of an exotic adventure with foreign-looking villains (one is reminiscent of Odd Job from Goldfinger from just the year before) that takes you through the streets and docks of Manhattan, as his man servant takes photos—it turns out these are reference photos for the comic-strip. (While I’m pretty sure most cartoonists didn’t go to this extent to achieve this level of verisimilitude, Ford later in the film notes that’s what made his strip so popular—readers knew Bash didn’t do anything he wouldn't do himself. And it's a conceit that becomes important later in the film.)

Cutting to the chase, one morning, following a night of revelry at a bachelor party where a sexy, beautiful blonde pops out of a cake, Ford wakes up in bed with the girl, discovering that, in his alcoholic daze the night before, he married her—and not only that, she’s Italian and doesn’t speak English! The film makes clear that this is a (comic) tragedy of epic proportions—in the film, Charles even has a premonition the moment it happened about it. He immediately tenders his resignation, reminding Ford that when he took the job, he made it clear he only worked for bachelors.

Of course, wackiness ensues. While Ford seems to settle into the highs and lows of married life—the sex is great and she’s a great cook, keeps house and takes care of him, she also keeps him up all night watching TV (to improve her English), has re-decorated his place, and put a crimp in his carefree routine. As a result of his new domesticity, his comic strip turns into a gag strip about married life called The Brannigans.

Dismayed by what his life has turned into, he is driven to plot to kill his wife without getting caught—but, of course, only in the strip, so that he can return his character Bash back to his bachelor roots and secret agent life. And, in keeping with his commitment to realism, Ford carries out part of his plan in real life (short of actually dispatching his wife, of course). However, when his wife disappears around the same time the strip’s explicit portrayal of the murder appears in newspapers, Ford is suspected of foul play and arrested.

I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil the rest of the film, but this is where I offer the caveat that the film, of course, is “of it’s time”—when husbands and the American male are hen-pecked and women are mostly after marriage and about shopping and spending their spouse's money.

Adding to the films' chauvinism is the fact that the wife—played by Italian actress Virna Lisi in her U.S. film debut—doesn’t even have a name, identified only as “Mrs. Ford” in the credits. Without giving anything away, even the film’s “climax” is pretty egregious in this regard—yes, of course, it’s all for laughs but it is undeniably politically incorrect and incredibly misogynistic given our more enlightened times (and I mean that genuinely without any intended irony or tongue in cheek—though it must be said that my wife mentioned to me that she loved this film growing up). The saving grace is the film’s final message when balance is restored—that love (and married life) does, indeed, conquer all.

The film is a time capsule of its time and, as I said, having enjoyed many of these breezy sex comedies when I was a kid—like Goodbye Charlie and Sex and the Single Girl (which Quine also directed, along with another personal favorite film of mine from the period, Paris When It Sizzles), I have a soft spot for the ‘60s go-go era and the period's films. The actors are great and the film looks terrific—Lemmon, of course, is always Lemmon and he engages in quite a bit of physical comedy that is impressive and considerable even for him. 

As for the actress Virna Lisi, while she doesn’t really have much to work with, she is nevertheless charming in the film, because her character is genuinely sweet and truly in love with her husband (as it turns out, he is deeply with her).

And while, of course, not intended to be an accurate portrayal of cartoonists and comics, I nevertheless enjoyed the representation of the profession. You get to see him at the drawing board and inking. It should be added that the strips in the movie are terrific, done by professional cartoonist Mel Keefer, an experienced newspaper comic strip artist on titles like Perry Mason and Rick O'Shay.

I also discovered years later that one of my favorite cartoonists of all time—the great Alex Toth— did a series of teaser strips to promote the series in the Hollywood Reporter (signed “Stanley Ford,” natch) and include samples of that work below!


Below: Strips for the movie by Mel Keefer





Below: Promotional art for the film by Alex Toth






Friday, January 22, 2021

Hail to the Chief


After making my views known on this blog leading up to the election and immediately after —when the results had been all but settled despite Donald Trump’s baseless claims and relentless attempts to overturn the results—I thought I was done discussing politics for awhile. But I realized the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris required some final words to close the book on the Trumpster and an opportunity to end on a high note.

First, leave it to Donald Trump to not simply end on as ungracious note as possible as the biggest sore loser in history, but to actually make things worse every step of the way, turning the end of his presidency and the country into a dumpster fire as he left office—and impeached for incitement to riot and nearly sedition. His actions included his attempts to pre-emptively declare victory on election night; pursuing more than 60 frivolous court claims that were just about laughed out of courts (including the Supreme Court), even by judges he had appointed; the hiring of the ridiculously incompetent Sidney Powell and Rudy Guiliani (he of Four Seasons Landscaping fame); pressuring state election officials to unilaterally overturn voting results through a combination of begging and veiled (empty) threats, perhaps in violation of election laws; and demanding that his party and own vice president not certify the results despite it being Constitutionally mandated; and having it spectacularly all blow up in his face by playing a huge role in inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that, while completely incompetent, nevertheless led to five deaths and a failed coup attempt.

While I’m sorry for the loss of life, the terror rained down on law enforcement and legislators, and the threat posed to what we have discovered is a fragile democracy, these acts of insurrection at the close of a disastrous, tumultuous and lawless term finally completely laid bare Donald Trump’s narcissistic malevolence for all the world to see, adding a perfectly appropriate malignant exclamation mark at the end of a presidency that will surely go down as the worst in U.S. history.

I give Biden full credit during this time for not engaging with Trump and staying high above the fray. While many people (myself included) understandably grew progressively angrier in righteous indignation at every turn, Biden quietly, competently and professionally went about his work, occasionally coming forward to reassure the country, particularly after the Capitol riots (and well before Trump did). During the transition, Biden acted with grace—while allowing Trump to slowly and self-torturously hang himself by the neck—and, dare I say it, presidentially. Finally, a grown up.

The inauguration perfectly captured Biden and Harris’s goals to restore dignity and respect to the White House and the country, as well as unity and a return to truth. I already greatly enjoy the tradition, symbolism, pomp and circumstance of events like presidential inaugurations, but even without cheering crowds, I was glad to still find the inauguration of President Joe Biden a moving and uplifting experience. It was note-perfect and restorative, from Biden’s reassuring and heartfelt inaugural address, Lady Gaga’s soaring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and, of course, Amanda Gorman’s thrilling recitation of “The Hill We Climb.” The parade, military review, the presence of former presidents from either side of the aisle at both the inauguration and, later, Arlington National Cemetery for a laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, were all moving celebrations of America and the peaceful transfer of power. And all of this happened only a few weeks after an attempted insurrection, albeit under the watchful eye of a a strong National Guard and law enforcement presence, but fortunately without any disruption.

I feel badly that Biden did not get to enjoy the trappings of a traditional inauguration, like the balls, but hopefully this is somewhat softened by the fact that Biden has been there before — both as a vice president and as a longtime member of Congress. The televised Celebration of America, hosted by Tom Hanks, nevertheless was a nice coda to the day.

Watching Biden in the leadup to the inauguration and his first few days of office, he actually comes off as one of the most humble and unassuming persons to be president. He has been generous in sharing the stage with Harris, a view I’m sure very much influenced by the unique partnership and friendship he formed serving as vice president under Barack Obama.

Will it be a successful presidency? Time and history will tell, and of course, the new President faces a much divided nation and a rival political party that has yet to reconcile with its own veer into radical extremism and cult of personality. But regardless, I just look forward to a presidency that is “normal,” inasmuch I do not have to be concerned and aggravated every day of the week, trusting that there is a responsible, mature and experienced individual in office who at least pays lip service and attempts to act in the interests of most honest, hard working people, and all Americans, rather than worry about what latest incompetence and self-serving misdeed has been committed in the name of pandering to a literally insane, cultish base that apparently prefers authoritarian rule over respect for our democracy and the Constitution.

As I said, being a glass half full kind of guy, I think we can take some comfort in knowing that, when it counted, our institutions held strong despite a relentless assault on our democracy. The courts and key election officials—including many from the GOP side—resisted the call to corruption and authoritarianism. And as the election both nationwide and, particularly, Georgia, showed, votes count. If people had not been energized and motivated, darkness and evil could have won. But it didn’t.

God bless America!

 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

More Capsule Reviews in the Time of Coronavirus (5)

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical

Obviously, there haven't been opportunities to see live theater or musicals lately, but when my wife told me she wanted to check out a streaming musical based on the Pixar film Ratatouille that grew out of a TikTok video that went viral, I was obviously apprehensive. Apparently, someone on TikTok composed, wrote and posted a song for a number from a “Ratatouille” musical to which other TikTok users began contributing from both the professional and amateur theater ranks, encompassing staging, costume design and more. It was eventually presented online as a fundraiser for the Actors Fund, as a streaming show.

Like many such productions, I planned to give it 10 minutes or so to see if it was worth my time — quite effectively, the show brings you in from the very start, with its “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” enthusiasm. But make no mistake, this is a nearly fully-realized, professional production, starting with the performers, all delightful, who include Titus Burgess as Remy the Rat, Andrew Barth Feldman as Linguini (who played “Dear Evan Hanson” on Broadway) and Wayne Brady. As one observer noted, the goal was to put on a “professional” production and the results show that there is a lot of talent out there (young and otherwise). In the credits, you get to see many of the contributors and snippets of the original TikTok songs—many of which are also on YouTube.

Watch the full musical:


Fandome 2: Superman Radio Show Re-Creation

Following the success of DC Fandome on August 22, 2020, Warner Brothers scheduled a follow up with additional material on September 12. Among the offerings was the re-creation of a 1940s episode of the Superman radio show, as a fundraiser for the Creative Coalition. The presentation, available online, featured a cast that rotated its parts among multiple actors, including, as Superman, Tim Daly (who played Superman on the animated series) and Daniel Dae, and others like Jason Alexander, Terry Crews, Giancarlo Esposito, Jason Isaacs, Richard Kind, Tony Shalhoub, and Henry Winkler.

While the show was fun and all the actors did a presentable job, as someone who was involved in a faux “radio show” as well, the show underscored how radio drama is an art in itself. Since voice and sound is the only dramatic tool for the medium, radio drama requires a bit more energy to avoid any dead air and keep the listener engaged. As an example, I thought Isaacs, as the villain, did especially well, throwing his whole body and voice into his performance.

It was a fun exercise—with so many table reads of classic movie and tv scripts being done in this age of coronavirus, the show was a nice addition.

Watch the radio show re-creation on YouTube: 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Entertainment Round up for 2020

Below is my annual end-of-year entertainment roundup for 2020!

Like everyone else, I was stuck at home for most of the year due to COVID-19, which no doubt contributed to a banner year of film and television consumption. Last year I separated films seen in the theater and on DVD from those seen online—for this year, I further refined the list by also separating streaming films from "series," regardless of whether they were on TV or a streaming service (including limited series).

Among my favorite series and/or films this year were Queen's Gambit (Netflix), Enola Holmes (Netflix), Soul (Pixar), Quiz (AMC), The Great (Hulu), Happiest Season (Hulu), the Glorias (Amazon Prime), Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix), Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (Netflix), Toast of London (Netflix), and Medical Police (Netflix). Honorable mentions go to Mank (Netflix), the Band's Visit (Prime), and the Return of the Hero (Prime). Late discoveries include Bombshell, Dora and the Lost City of Gold, Wonder Wheel, Just Mercy, and World on Fire. As usual, I also revisited past favorites, including the West Wing, Gorky Park, Great News, and others.

Although I wasn't as enthralled by the Mandalorian on Disney Plus like some people (in fact, I found it downright boring), the second season turned out to be much more appealing.

In addition, at the beginning of 2020, I mentioned that I had transitioned from a satellite tv series to YouTubeTV. After now having had it nearly a year, I can say it was a great decision, I'm very happy with the service and the much lower pricepoint (which allowed us the cushion to sign up for a few other streaming services).

While of course stay-at-home guidance prevented us from seeing live shows, we actually enjoyed several terrific live online concerts by the Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band, which was a treat. And despite the cancellation of this year's San Diego Comic-Con, I exhibited at the virtual show, Comic-Con@Home and enjoyed checking out DC Comics' FanDome.

I didn't read as many books as I would have liked (comics, graphic novel or otherwise), but I enjoyed Woody Allen's Apropos of Nothing and Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by John "Derf" Backderf.

As we enter 2021, it will be interesting if I maintain this pace!

Films/DVDs
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Extended & Extras) - DVD (12/28/2020) The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - (Extended & Extras) DVD (12/6/2020) Jojo Rabbit - DVD (12/22/2020) - rewatch Help! - DVD (11/27/2020) - rewatch Remains of the Day - DVD (9/4/2020) - rewatch Three Kings - DVD (8/16/2020) - rewatch Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood - DVD (8/15/ /2020) - rewatch Hannah and Her Sisters - DVD (4/11/2020) - rewatch Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood - DVD (2/27/2020) - rewatch Masters of Sex, Season 2 (DVD - Disc 2) (1/25/2020) Jojo Rabbit - DVD (1/5/2020) - rewatch

Streaming Films

Ford v. Ferrari (12/28/2020) - rewatch
Soul - Disney Plus (2/28/2020)
Wonder Woman 1984 - HBO Max - (2/25/2020)
Frank and Ollie - Disney+ (12/21/20)
Young Victoria - Hulu (12/20/2020) - rewatch
Shattered Glass - IMDB (12/11/2020) - rewatch
Pawn Sacrifice - Hulu (12/4/2020)
Mank - Netflix (12/4/2020)
China’s Schindlers - Prime (12/6/2020)
Rescue in the Philippines - Refuge from the Holocaust- Prime (12/6/2020)
Saints and Soldiers: The Void - Prime (12/6/2020)
The Real Inglorious Bastards - Prime (12/5/2020)
Bombshell - Hulu (11/29/2020)
The Man Who Invented Christmas - Hulu (11/27/2020) - rewatch
Last Christmas - Prime (11/27/2020)
Friends and Romans - Prime (11/27/2020)
2001: The Making of a Myth - Prime (11/27/2020)
Ides of March - Prime (11/24/2020)
Happiest Season - Hulu (11/24/2020)
Misbehavior - Prime (11/24/2020)
CQ - Prime (11/22/2020)
The Nice Guys - Hulu (11/22/2020)
The Living Daylights - Prime (11/14/2020) - rewatch
You Only Live Twice - Prime(11/13/2020) - rewatch
Thunderball - Prime (11/12/2020) - rewatch
From Russia WIth Love - Prime (11/12/2020) - rewatch
Rebecca - Netflix (11/8/2020)
The Queen’s Gambit eps 1-3 - Netflix (11/1/2020)
I Am Woman - Netflix (10/25/2020)
The Glorias
- Prime (10/25/2020)
Yes God Yes – Prime (10/24/2020)
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm - Prime (10/23/2020)
Trial of the Chicago 7 - Netflix (10/17/20)
Ask Me Anything - YouTubeTV (10/04/2020)
Anna Karenina - Prime (10/02/2020)
The Post - YouTubeTV (10/4/20) - rewatch
Man from UNCLE - YouTubeTV (10/4/20) - rewatch
Boys in the Band - Netflix (10/4/2020)
Love Birds - Prime (9/29/20)
Seth Myers comedy special - Prime (10/1/2020)
Ship of Fools - TCM (9/29/20)
What If - Prime (9/26/2020)
Enola Holmes - Netflix (9/25/2020)
The Love Punch - Prime (9/24/2020)
Children’s Hour - Prime (9/20/2020)
Charade - Prime (9/19/2020)- rewatch
Audrey Hepburn Magical - Prime (9/17/2020)
Casablanca - Prime (9/15/2020)- rewatch
Pen15, eps 1-3 - Hulu (9/12/2020)
I, Tonya - Hulu (9/10/2020) - rewatch
The Rewrite - Amazon rental (09/06/2020)
Rebel in the Rye - Hulu (9/5/202)
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women - Hulu (9/5/2020)
The Last Full Measure - Hulu (8/30/2020)
Batman and Bill - Hulu (8/30/2020)
Sully - YouTube TV (8/28/2020)
The Assistant - Hulu (8/26/2020
Adaptation - Amazon rental (8/16/2020)
Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Hulu (8/17/2020)
Pride and Prejudice - Prime - rewatch
Rushmore - Prime - rewatch
The Lady Vanishes - Prime
To Sir, With Love –  (8/8/2020) - rewatch
The Return of the Hero - Prime (8/2/2020)
The Winning Season - Prime (7/17/2020)
Love and Mercy - Hulu (7/16/2020) - rewatch
The Italian Job - Prime (7/8/2020)
Monuments Men - IMDB TV (7/3/2020) - rewatch
Hamilton - Disney Plus (7/3/2020)
O' Brother, Where Art Thou? - Prime (7/4/2020) - rewatch
Guys and Dolls - Prime (7/2/2020) - rewatch
A Mighty Wind - Prime (7/1/2020) - rewatch
Heaven Can Wait - Prime (6/30/2020) - rewatch
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga - Netflix (6/28/2020)
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn- Netflix (6/27/2020)
Trumbo - Netflix (6/27/2020)- rewatch
The Queen - Netflix (6/22/2020)- rewatch
Frost/Nixon - Netflix (6/21/2020)- rewatch
The Conspirator - Prime (6/23/2020) - rewatch
Chariots of Fire – YouTubeTV (6/21/2020) - rewatch
Selma - Amazon Prime (6/19/2020)
Marshall - Amazon Prime (6/18/2020)- rewatch
The Band’s Visit - Amazon Prime (6/14/2020)
Just Mercy - Amazon Prime (6/14/2020)
12 Angry Men - Amazon Prime (6/7/2020)
The Great Escape  - Amazon Prime (5/30/2020) - rewatch
Rocketman - Hulu (5/26/2020)
The Front - Amazon Prime (5/24/2020) - rewatch
Eat Drink Man Woman - Amazon Prime (5/21/2020) - rewatch
The Year of Living Dangerously - Prime purchase (5/17/2020) - rewatch
The Emperor - Prime (5/9/2020)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Disney+ (5/5/2020)  - rewatch
Comic Book Confidential (20th Anniversary Edition) - Prime (5/4/2020)
Doomed: The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four Movie - Prime (5/2/2020)
Public Enemy - TCM (5/2/2020) - rewatch
The Escort - YouTube (5/2/2020)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - Netflix (5/1/2020) -rewatch
The Artist - Netflix (5/1/2020) - rewatch
The Post - YouTubeTV (04/30/2020) - rewatch
Shanghai - Prime (04/30/2020)
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley - Prime (04/29/2020)
Rude Dude - Prime (4/27/2020)
Midway - Prime Rental (04/26/2020)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Netflix (04/23//2020) - rewatch
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley - Prime (4/22/2020)
The Terminal - YouTubeTV (04/13/2020) - rewatch
The Hunt for Red October - YouTubeTV (04/12/2020) - rewatch
Love Wedding Repeat - Netflix (04/11/2020)
Never Surrender - Prime (4/11/2020)
Wonder Wheel - Prime (4/10/2020)
Woody Allen: A Documentary (Part 2) - Prime (4/9/2020)
Woody Allen: A Documentary (Part 1) - Prime (4/8/2020)
Love and Death - Prime (4/8/2020)- rewatch
Coco – Disney Plus (4/9/2020) - rewatch
Spotlight – IMDB TV (4/7/2020) - rewatch
The Big Short - Amazon Prime (04/03/2020) - rewatch
Gorky Park
- YouTubeTV (04/04/2020) - rewatch
Marc Maron: Too Real - Netflix (04/02/2020)
Dean - Netflix (04/02/2020)
Morning Glory - Amazon Prime (03/29/2020)
Manhattan - Amazon Prime (03/29/2020) - rewatch
Clueless - Amazon Prime  (03/29/2020) - rewatch
Emma - Amazon Prime  (03/28/2020)
Reds - Amazon Prime (03/26/2020) - rewatch
Rocketeer - Disney Plus (03/22/2020) - rewatch
Lawrence of Arabia - YouTube TV (03/21/2020) - rewatch
Sands of Iwo Jima - Amazon Prime (03/14/2020) - rewatch
Blade Runner 2049 – IMDB TV (3/8/2020)
Fighting with My Family - Amazon Prime (3/2/2020)
Downton Abbey - Amazon purchase (2/29/2019) - rewatch
Executive Suite - YouTube TV (2/25/2020) - rewatch
Tootsie - YouTubeTV (2/17/2020) - rewatch
Ghosts of Mississippi - YouTubeTV (2/16/2020) - rewatch
Argo  - YouTubeTV (2/9/2020) - rewatch
And Justice for All - YouTubeTV (2/9/2020) - rewatch
Keeping Up with the Joneses - YouTubeTV (2/2/2020)
Outsourced - Amazon Prime (1/26/2020) - rewatch
Mission Impossible: Fallout - Amazon Prime (01/16/2020) - rewatch
Solo: A Star Wars Story - Netflix (1/11/2020) - rewatch
Tall GIrl - Netflix (1/5/2020)

Streaming Series/TV
From the Earth to the Moon - HBOMax (12/31/2020) - rewatch Great News - Netflix (12/23/2020) - rewatch
Venture Brothers - S1 Eps 1-4 - Hulu (12/20/2020)
The West Wing Seasons 5 - Netflix (12/19/2020)
The West Wing Seasons 4 - Netflix (12/12/2020)
The West Wing Seasons 6-7 - Netflix (11/21/2020)
The West Wing Seasons 1-3 - Netflix (10/20/2020)
The Right Stuff eps 1-2 - Disney+ (10/9/2020)
Emily in Paris (10/9/2020)
Sense and Sensibility (2008 PBS adaptation) - Hulu (8/9/2020)
Starring Adam West - Prime (7/10/2020)
Better Off Ted Seasons 1–2 - Hulu (7/4/2020)
Toast of London: Season 1: "The Unspeakable Play" Netflix - (6/27/2020)
Black Monday S1 E1 - Amazon Prime (6/228/2020)
Life After Flash - Amazon Prime (6/18/2020)
Quiz, S3 - AMC (6/18/2020)
Making Apes: The Artists Who Changed Film - Amazon Prime (6/14/2020)
Tokyo Trial- Netflix - (6/14/2020)
High Fidelity - Hulu (6/11/2020)

Quiz, E1-2 - AMC (6/7/2020)
By Sidney Lumet - Amazon Prime (06/06/20)
One Zoom to Rule Them All – Reunited Apart: Lord of the Rings - YouTube (6/2/2020)
Space Force, S1 E1 - Netflix -(6/1/2020)
Reunited Apart Makes a SPLASH - YouTube (5/27/2020)
The Coolest Guy Movie Ever: Return to the Scene of the Great Escape - Amazon Prime (5/25/2020)
The Great, S1 E3-7 - Hulu (5/24/2020)
The Gallery, eps 1-4 - Disney+ (5/22/2020)
NewsfrommeTV – Interview with Scott Shaw! - YouTube (5/24/2020)
Produced by George Martin - Amazon Prime (5/23/2020)
Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell (Classic Albums) - Amazon Prime (5/22/2020)
World on FIre, Ep. 2-7 (Masterpiece Theatre) - YouTube TV (5/18/2020)
The Great, S1 E2 - Hulu (5/17/2020)
Comic Masters: AexToth Part 1- Episode 88 - YouTube (5/16/2020)
Star Wars From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II Documentary - YouTube (5/16/2020)
The Great, S1 E1 - Hulu (5/14/2020)
Ron Livingston Band of Brothers Video Diary - YouTube (05/16/2020)
Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill - Netflix (5/8/2020)
Clone Wars (Season 7, finale last four episodes) – Disney+ (05/05/2020)
Frankenstein (UK National Public Theatre) -
Band of Brothers, Eps 5-10 - Prime (04/19/2020) - Rewatch
The Hollywood Collection: William Holden - The Golden Boy  - Prime (04/19/2020)
Never Surrender:  A Galaxy Quest Documentary (4/17/2020)
World on Fire, Ep. 1, - PBS app (4/6/2020)
Misery Loves Comedy - Prime (03/30/2020)
30 Rock - Netflix (3/29/2020)
Arrested Development - Netflix (3/29/2020)
Year of the Rabbit - Eps 1-3  - YouTubeTV (3/6/2020)
James May: Our Man In Japan - Season 1 - Amazon Prime (2/28/2020)
SNL - Season 1 episodes - YouTubeTV (2/17/2020) - rewatch
Medical Police/Episodes 9–10 (2/3//2019)
Sense and Sensibility - Amazon Prime (PBS Series) (2/3/2020)
James May in Japan - Amazon Prime (1/31/2020)
Medical Police/Episodes 6-8 - Netflix (1/31/2020)
Little Dorritt (01/20/2020)
Howard’s End (2018 PBS series) (01/19/2020)
Catch 22 - Hulu (01/18/2020)
Medical Police/Episodes 1-5 (1/11/2020)

Live Performance

Rock and Roll Music - Fab Four (10/4/2020)
Rubber Soul Live Stream - Fab Four (9/12/2020)
The Cavern - Fab Four (8/22/2020)
DC FanDome 2 (9/12/2020)
DC FanDome (8/22/2020)
Best of 1965-1966  - Fab Four (7/25/2020) Comic-Con@Home
Heartbreakers 2 - Fab Four (7/11/2020)
Heartbreakers - Fab Four (7/3/2020)
All We Need is Love2- Fab Four (6/28/2020)
All We Need is Love - Fab Four (6/19/2020)
Let it Beard - Fab Four (5/29/2020)

Books
Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf (12/25/2020)
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine (9/8/2020)
Name of the Game by Will Eisner (08/03/2020)
Apropros of Nothing by Woody Allen (04/03/2020)
My Friend Dahmer - John “Derf” Bergderf (04/22/2020)