Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Movies & TV’ Category

Oddly compelling series on Netflix: The Uncanny Counter

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I didn’t expect all that much when I decide to watch some of the first episode of The Uncanny Counter, but I find it strangely gripping. It’s one where episodes are released weekly, but right now 8 episodes are available (and I’m in episode 4).

You might try watching the first episode and see what you think. Korean, subtitles, police/supernatural.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 December 2020 at 11:35 am

Posted in Movies & TV

The Dazzling Razzle of Ann Reinking and Where to See It

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Ann Reinking was a national treasure. (I’ll mention that All That Jazz is one of my all-time favorite movies.) New York has a fine article on her and her career and contributions with several excellent clips. Here’s one:

Written by LeisureGuy

16 December 2020 at 11:24 am

Posted in Art, Movies & TV, Video

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If you liked “The Queen’s Gambit,” then watch “Searching for Bobby Fischer”

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The movie (from 1993) is on Netflix and is based on the true story of Joshua Waitzkin. It’s a feel-good movie with an amazing cast: Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley, Laurence Fishburne, David Paymer, William H. Macy, Dan Hedaya, Laura Linney, Tony Shalhoub. No drug use in this one.

It’s listed now with the title “Innocent Moves,” but you can search for it under that title or the original and find it. (Netflix no longer enables direct links to titles.)

Written by LeisureGuy

13 December 2020 at 4:51 am

Posted in Chess, Movies & TV

A treasure from yesteryear: Gerald McBoing Boing

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The backstory is quite interesting and worth reading.

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12 December 2020 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Movies & TV, Video

Unusual TV ad (an understatement)

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10 December 2020 at 1:22 pm

Why rulers and leaders don’t seem to see the right decisions so clearly as you and I

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10 December 2020 at 1:00 pm

Hey Rosalie!! That old song and dance.

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How many do you recognize, and how many of the movies have you seen from which clips were taken?

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10 December 2020 at 11:05 am

Posted in Movies & TV, Music

A more pleasant video: Doris Day and Kirk Douglas in a scene from “Young Man with a Horn”

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Young Man with a Horn is an excellent movie in which Hoagy Carmichael also plays (a role and the piano). It continues awhile after the actual ending of the movie, doing an after-the-fact pasted-on fakei-cheery epilogue narrated by Carmichael, but if you stop the movie just before that starts, it’s a great movie. Here’s the scene:

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2020 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Jazz, Movies & TV, Video

Short videos of wonderful local Chinese foods in Chaoshan, Yunnan, and Gansu

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I occasionally blog about some local food or drink I enjoy that distant readers cannot try — but it seems every locale has its own food specialties available only to those who live there or very nearby.

The Netflix series Flavorful Origins has short episodes — about 10 minutes each — on such local specialty foods three provinces in China: Chaoshan cuisine (Season 1), Yunnan Cuisine (Season 2), and Gansu cuisine (Season 3). Watching the first two episodes of Gansu cuisine, I long to eat the grilled lamb in Jiaguyuan city or the sheep herders’ mutton cooked in tripe using hot cobblestones, all in the open air in their Ganjian pastures. And I would love to eat Lanzhou lily bulbs, sweet and crisp, roasted in the oven or used in a stir-fry — and the lily blossoms from the same plant.

The episodes are beautifully shot and would be especially good if you speak Mandarin. I do not, but fortunately subtitles are used — and the main impact is from the images.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2020 at 8:30 am

Posted in Food, Movies & TV

Food movies — and a note on garlic

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It’s no secret that I am exploiting as much as I can the two-week free trial the Criterion Channel offers — obviously not secret, since I just wrote a blog post about it earlier today.

It’s also no secret to anyone who reads my recipe posts that I like garlic (and onions) — it’s rare that one of my recipes will lack garlic. One book I loved and wish I had kept is Garlic Is Life: A Memoir With Recipes, by Chester Aaron. I’ve commented several times on the wonderful Russian red garlic grown locally

The local garlic I enjoy (cloves from one head)

Criterion Collection offers groups of movies that share some theme, and I just came across the group “Glorious Food,” which includes some favorites — Tampopo, My Dinner With Andre, Babette’s Feast, Tom Jones, for example — those are ones I’ve seen and would enjoy rewatching (and in fact I’m rewatching My Dinner With Andre  right now) — and some I’ve not yet seen. I just watched one of the latter: Garlic Is Worth Ten Mothers, a very nice 50-minute film set in Northern California (including several scenes at Chez Panisse) that is a paean to garlic. Definitely include that in your trial run through of their offerings.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2020 at 5:55 pm

“Red Beard,” a wonderful movie by Akira Kurosawa — and the Criterion Channel’s free trial with suggestions for use

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I just watched Red Beard, a long (3 hours) B&W movie, Kurosawa’s last movie with Toshiro Mifune and also his last in the cinematic widescreen ratio of 2.35 to 1. (He moved to a more moderate ratio to be more accommodating to television: 1.8 to 1).

The movie is about a medical clinic for the poor in 19th century Japan, and it is in effect a big ensemble effort with many characters playing out their stories. One advantage of the movie’s length is that it provides time for us to see gradual change in characters. Indeed, it’s like a lengthy 19th century novel (think Dickens’s Great Expectations, for example).

I don’t want to spoil the movie, but I do highly recommend it. I’m now going to watch it again because, having seen it once, I’ll know better what to look for so I’m sure I’ll see more on a second viewing. But I will mention one them.

“Red Beard” is the nickname given to Toshiro Mifune’s character, the somewhat gruff but wise and insightful doctor who runs the clinic. Obviously, given the setting, the idea of curing people is much in the foreground. One thing that comes through, as we see it in various people and contexts, is that forgiving is curative. People  infected with anger or frustration or sadness can cure themselves through understanding (and thus forgiving) the offender. This forgiveness may not help the offender, but it does help cure the forgiver by relieving them of the burden of negative thoughts and emotions.

A very good film — and on the Criterion Channel you can also watch it with a good commentary.

You can enjoy the Criterion Channel for two weeks free with a trial membership, so that’s what I’m doing now. I enjoyed rewatching Hopscotch (Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterson, Ned Beatty, and Herbert Lom, among others), and I’m going to see again The Makioka Sisters, which I was very impressed with when I saw it in the 1980s. And Videodrome, a very weird David Cronenberger film (that’s somewhat redundant) with James Woods. And… well, there’s quite a list.

I highly recommend the two-week Criterion Channel free trial just to see some of these movies. You can cancel after a couple of days (from the dropdown list by your name), and they’ll still allow you to continue watching for the full two weeks. This tactic is not a cheat — they want you to use the two-week free trial. That’s why they offer it.

I found their “All Films” list not very browse-friendly, but you can filter it by genre, decade, etc. One good way to pick films is to go to Amazon and search “Criterion Collection,” which will bring up a lot of titles with descriptions. You can then search the titles you want on the Criterion Channel (though they’re not all there: the Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight) is in the Amazon list but not available on the Channel. Still, it’s an easy way to find possibilities.

UPDATE: And another film you definitely should watch: “Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers,” a 50-minute film on garlic (which I eat at pretty much every meal).

Written by LeisureGuy

26 November 2020 at 10:43 am

Posted in Movies & TV

The Nicholas Brothers were polished performers from a young age

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This clip of the Nicholas Brothers is from 1936, but YouTube has one from four years earlier and even in that they are totally professional. They were born in 1914 and 1921, so they are not so young as they appear — but still.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2020 at 9:01 am

Posted in Jazz, Movies & TV, Video

How to Tell the Story of a Cult: NXIVM in soft focus and NXIVM analyzed

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Sophie Gilbert writes in the Atlantic:

Not 20 minutes into the vowHBO’s enthralling-then-ultimately-gasbaggy docuseries, things started to feel concerningly familiar to me. Sarah Edmondson—an engaging Canadian actor with big valedictorian energy who had joined the Albany-based organization NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um)—was describing how she was first drawn into a group that she would later expose as a sex cult. Edmondson’s career had stalled, and she was looking for a sign from the universe. A chance meeting on a cruise with a documentarian named Mark Vicente led her to her first five-day NXIVM seminar, where, between clunky taped interludes with ’80s fitness-video graphics, Edmondson says, she had a revelation.

The part that grabbed her came midway through, when NXIVM’s co-founder Nancy Salzman theorized that people with low self-esteem let their “limiting beliefs” curb their potential. “I thought that was just the way that I was,” Edmondson says. “And then all of a sudden, like, I could systematically evolve to be the ideal version of myself. To write my own character.” The jargon comes thick and fast in The Vow: “disintegrations,” “possibilities,” “human-potential program.” To the uninitiated, this might read like so much innocuous psychobabble. But during an intensive self-development workshop, when you’re sleep-deprived, isolated, and being love-bombed by peppy idealists who speak in emphatic cadences, these kinds of ideas can feel like the secrets of the universe are being unlocked.

Reader, it happened to me. In 2006, when I was floundering after college and my father was dying of cancer, my mother enrolled me in a personal-development program she’d recently taken and couldn’t say enough good things about. Edmondson’s description of suddenly awakening to the idea of profound personal change tracked with what I found on day three, having identified my own limiting beliefs and witnessed dozens of fellow attendees “transform” emotionally onstage. Pepped up on possibility, I decided to apply to journalism school. During one of the breaks, compelled by the session leader, I called my dad and told him I loved him. (Because we were both English and therefore hopelessly emotionally repressed, this was the moment my stepmother decided I was in a cult.) For years afterward, I told people how much the course had helped me, and encouraged them to consider it. My interpretation of the program was, until recently, colored by the immersive experience of the whole thing—of being surrounded by joyful, trippily tired people committing themselves to being better human beings. What could be so bad about that?

The storytelling in The Vow can be both similarly open-minded and similarly blinkered. From the outset, the show’s directors, Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, appear intent on countering the reductive “sex cult” portrayals of NXIVM with a persuasive portrait of how intelligent, empathetic people became so swayed by the promise of infinite human potential sold by NXIVM’s Executive Success Programs that some ended up agreeing to be branded with a cauterizing iron. As Edmondson publicly revealed in 2017, NXIVM wasn’t just running self-improvement seminars. Within the larger organization was a smaller cult of personality in which some female members (including the Smallville actor Allison Mack) reportedly recruited other women into sexual servitude for NXIVM’s co-founder Keith Raniere, a soft-spoken, unprepossessing volleyball enthusiast.

“We didn’t join a cult,” the NXIVM member turned whistleblower Mark Vicente says in one scene, frustrated. “Nobody joins a cult. They join a good thing. And then they realize they were fucked.” Much of The Vow’s footage is taken directly from the propaganda videos Vicente made as he abandoned his directing career to climb higher in the NXIVM ranks, which may explain why the show feels curiously defensive. It dreamily weaves ex-members’ reminiscences through abundant scenes of Raniere working his schtick—expounding vaguely on topics such as integrity and trauma. The emphasis is always on understanding, not judgment.

Some crucial context is missing, though. Amer has said that he and Noujaim are filmmakers, not journalists; according to Noujaim, their mission was to document a crisis of faith, not tell the comprehensive story of NXIVM. (Noujaim enrolled in a few NXIVM workshops herself and has spoken about being swayed by the group’s supposedly idealistic mission.) But The Vow’s fly-on-the-wall approach to capturing how NXIVM unraveled means it treats both its apostates and Raniere himself—sentenced last month to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking and other crimes—with a dubiously soft touch.

It’s easier to see the series’s blind spots when it’s viewed as a companion piece with a new Starz series on the same subject, the finale of which airs tonight. Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult undercuts The Vow’s approach. Its directors interview cult experts in tandem with former NXIVM members to better understand Raniere’s tactics. The Starz series also includes information so pertinent to understanding NXIVM that it seems inexcusable for The Vow to omit it. Before watching Seduced, I had seen the particulars of the workshop I took (14-hour days, no alcohol, no snacking, no painkillers for headaches) as quirks designed to impress upon participants the importance of self-discipline, rather than coercive techniques to make them more psychologically and emotionally pliable. My own account of the course was incomplete, because my ability to interpret it critically had been fundamentally manipulated and impaired. The same thing is true of The Vow. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 November 2020 at 11:14 am

The Danish Poet: A short but poignant animated film

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8 November 2020 at 7:10 am

“Ryan,” an unusual (and good) animated short

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7 November 2020 at 11:06 am

Posted in Art, Movies & TV

Terry Gilliam explains his Monty Python animations

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6 November 2020 at 2:10 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

RIP Sean Connery, 1930-2020

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The full 22nd Kennedy Center Honors program in 1999 celebrated Victor Borge, Sean Connery, Judith Jamison, Jason Robards, and Stevie Wonder. This is the Sean Connery segment.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2020 at 3:13 am

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

“Royal Wedding” and some notes

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I just rewatched Royal Wedding (the 1951 Lerner and Lowe movie musical. The actual royal wedding was in 1947, and footage from the event is included in the musical — the crowds! the coach!)

Some points of interest:

Winston Churchill daughter Sarah plays a prominent role as the love interest of Fred Astaire’s character.

I realized as I watched the movie that the famous dance sequence in which Fred Astaire dances with a coat rack follows closely the dance Fred Astaire later does with Jane Powell. (They play a brother-and-sister dance duo, and her love interest is played by Peter Lawford, later of Kennedy clan fame.)

There’s a wonderful slapstick Bronx-set dance sequence in which Astaire’s costume hints at a zoot suit: the trousers have the high waist, though are not so full cut (because he has to dance in them), but the coat does suit, totally lacking in the requisite drape shape. Here’s a real zoot suit worn with panache by Cab Calloway. (I have seen Calloway wearing what seems to be the same suit in a color film. The suit there is yellow — bright yellow.)


Another reason that a zoot suit might have been avoided in a movie probably made in 1950 is the still-recent memory of the zoot-suit riots of 1943, which took the suit out of fashion. The riots occurred in Los Angeles, so Hollywood would have been keenly aware.

There’s one of Astaire’s most famous dance sequences later in the movie, but I won’t spoil the surprise for those who are viewing the movie for the first time. And here’s the full movie.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2020 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Elizabeth Harmon v. Harry Beltnik with commentary.

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I’ve been enjoying The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, a limited series based on a Walter Tevis novel of the same name. (Tevis also wrote The Hustler and The Color of Money, about “Fast Eddie” Felson (made into movies), and The Man Who Fell to Earth (also made into a movie).)

This game occurs early in the series, in Elizabeth Harmon’s first tournament in her home town in Kentucky. She enters as an unrated player. The YouTube chess commentaries by agadmator are all excellent. Below he comments on this game and also provides a link to the original, played in 1955, so in keeping with the era of the series.

A Vulture article explains why the chess in the series is so good. From the article:

Two key figures in putting together those sequences were Bruce Pandolfini, a longtime chess author and coach who also consulted on the original novel, and Michelle Tesoro, The Queen’s Gambit’s editor, who also worked with Frank on Godless. The two of them talked to Vulture about mapping out the series’ many chess matches, finding innovative ways to cut them together, and the useful advice they got from grandmaster Garry Kasparov.

If you’ve watched the series, that article is very interesting. And see also this Vulture article on the series.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2020 at 11:24 am

Posted in Chess, Games, Movies & TV

Betty Boop as Snow White, and Cab Calloway doing the moonwalk

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The above is from this Open Culture post, well worth reading. You’ll notice that the ghost Cab Calloway does the moonwalk. From the Wikipedia article on the step:


There are many recorded instances of the moonwalk; similar steps are reported as far back as 1932, used by Cab Calloway. In 1985, Calloway said that the move was called “The Buzz” when he and others performed it in the 1930s.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2020 at 10:51 am

Posted in Jazz, Movies & TV

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