“Maestro” captures the depth of a complicated human

When “Patton” arrived in 1970, filmgoers were fascinated.
Here was the rare movie biography that captured someone’s real depth. There were parts of Gen. George Patton we could love or hate, envy or pity. He was – like many people, especially those at the top – a complicated human being.
“Patton” was rewarded with seven Academy Awards, including best picture, screenplay (co-written by Francis Coppola) and actor. Now the same thing might happen to “Maestro,” which arrived Wednesday on Netflix, after a brief run in theaters. Read more…

“The Crown”: warm portrait of humans in crisis

Peter Morgan is back on familiar turf now. He’s even edited himself a tad.
His latest “The Crown” (shown here) splurge – four episodes, ending with Diana’s funeral – is sort of “The Queen”-plus. In Morgan’s style, it has deep, fascinating human insights that may or may not be true.
Morgan has done this with others. His screenplays portrayed Idi Amin, Henry VIII, David Frost, Tony Blair and Anne Boleyn’s sister. But the 2006 “Queen” movie captured new attention. Read more…

Second “Lincoln Lawyer”: same charm, a bit less fun

It might be difficult to pass a rule requiring David E. Kelley to write all TV mini-series.
That would raise constitutional questions. Also, the unions haven’t yet approved the cloning of writers.
Still, it sometimes seems like a good idea. The latest example involves the second season of Netflix’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” (shown here).
The first half of the 10-episode season has just arrived, with the second half coming Aug. 3. It’s still enjoyable – great characters, crisp settings – but no match for the previous season. Read more…

“Florida Man”: fun and peril in the sunshine

Let’s imagine that Elmore Leonard, Janet Evanovich and Dave Barry brainstormed.
We’ll assume that alcohol or chemical enhancements were provided, The result might be “Florida Man” (shown here), the surprisingly good, seven-part mini-series that arrived recently on Netflix.
Leonard was a Detroit novelist who occasionally moved his focus down to Florida, with a surplus of eccentric character; his “LaBrava” was an award-winner and“Maximum Bob” briefly became a TV series. Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels (set in New Jersey) are filled with odd characters; Barry is the Miami humorist whose first novel, “Big Trouble,” was big on Florida quirks.
Throw them together, mix thoroughly and you have “Florida Man.” Read more…

Quiet comedy and zesty action blend neatly

As “Murder Mystery 2” unfolds, Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler (shown here) become action heroes.
She’s dangling from the Eiffel Tower, he’s fighting a muscular villain, both are battling bad guys inside a speeding van.
But the strength of this film – which debuted Friday (March 31) on Netflix – involves their quieter bits.
They play a husband and wife who can’t help questioning and correcting each other – even when there are bigger things to focus on. That provides the fun, as we wait for the next big moment. Read more…

Here’s a movie you (and Sondheim) would love

“Glass Onion” is that rare movie that almost everyone would like … and that Stephen Sondheim would have loved.
Sondheim was a big puzzle buff. He even paused his Broadway-musical chores to co-write “The Last of Sheila” (1973), in which a conniving mogul hosts an exotic vacation filled with mysteries and secrets. Rian Johnson has said that was one of his inspirations for writing and direction “Onion,” the brilliant “Knives Out” sequel that has just arrived on Netflix.
Johnson also sort of borrows from Agatha Christie and other mystery masters. But as always, he makes it all bigger, brighter, better and, at times, funnier. Read more…

“Diana” flips Broadway’s trickle-down plan

When “Diana The Musical” debuted on Netflix, Broadway’s trickle-down tradition wobbled.
The system has been in place for generations: Shows are seen by a few people who have the right location (New York) and bank account (flush). The rest of us must wait for a tour … or a local production … or, occasionally, a movie.
But “Diana” (shown here) goes in reverse. It reached Netflix on Oct.1, seven weeks before its Broadway opening. Read more…

“Green Eggs”: A few words hatch a series

There are plenty of great books out there, still waiting to be movies or TV series.
Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” seemed to be a long shot. Jared Stern recalled his first reaction:
“I was like, ‘Uh huh – there’s like 50 words in the book. How do we make it into a movie?’” Stern told the Television Critics Association in August.
Or into something bigger. Now it’s a 13-week series (shown here) that reaches Netflix on Friday (Nov. 8). Read more…