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Josef Woodard

Stories by Josef

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‘Babylon Berlin’ Is a Seductive, Gritty, Film-Noir-Basted Wonder

Netflix Original Series Explores 1929 Germany’s Weimar Republic

Netflix’s original series explores Germany’s fragile but culturally fertile Weimar Republic in 1929.

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‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Gets a Bit Too Undone at Times

Stew of a Film That Never Fully Satisfies

It’s a stew of a film that lures viewers into its tasty trap without fully satisfying.

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Dark Comedy ‘Barry’ Dazzles in Series Opener

Bill Hader Stars as Reluctant Hitman in Fab New Show

Bill Hader stars as a reluctant hitman in his fab new show on HBO.

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‘Itzhak’ Gives Glimpse Into Violinist Itzhak Perlman’s Life

Touching, Persuasive Documentary on the Celebrity Virtuoso

Director Alison Chernick presents a touching and persuasive documentary on the celebrity virtuoso.

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‘Ramen Heads’ Takes Viewers on Mouth Watering Journey

Japanese Doc Delves into Specialized World of Gourmet Ramen Makers

Japanese documentary delves into the specialized world of legendary gourmet ramen makers.

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‘Leaning into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy’ Is Dreamy and Visually Gorgeous

Documentary Paints Portrait of Artist Who Continues to Evolve and Invent

Thomas Riedelsheimer’s documentary paints a portrait of an artist who continues to evolve and invent.

‘Oh Lucy!’ Goes Dark Before the Light Comes in Again

Woman Who’s Comes Apart Looks for Way Back to Normality

The film tells of a woman coming apart and looking for a way back into normality that has suddenly morphed.

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‘Wormwood’ Probes Mysterious Death of CIA Biological Warfare Scientist

Errol Morris’s Docudrama Scrutinizes Frank Olson’s Alleged Suicide

Errol Morris’s docudrama scrutinizes the alleged suicide of Frank Olson, who was found dead outside N.Y.C.’s Hotel Statler in 1953, having fallen from a 13th-floor window.

‘The Insult’ Tackles Simmering Socio-Ethnic Rage Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian

Drama Moves Beyond Insult that Serves as Kindling for Simmering Socio-Ethnic Rage.

Courtroom drama moves far beyond the trivial insult that serves as kindling for simmering socio-ethnic rage.

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'Our Cartoon President’ Satirizes POTUS, or Does It?

Series Raises Question: Is This Farce, Reality TV, or Both?

The scare factor underlying this series on Trump follies is its proximity to the chilling non-cartoon world over which the Trumpster has dominion.

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SBIFF 2018 Wrap-Up

An Enlightened Escape Route

The festival came to a close on Saturday night, with a heartwarming and civic-minded roster of Santa Barbara documentaries.

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SBIFF 2018: Day 10

Deer in the Dreamlights

A strong undercurrent in the film is the power and the dreams, which become both a retreat from the concrete reality and a literally connective tissue between our lover protagonists.

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SBIFF 2018: Day Nine

The Lure of a Mysterious ‘Woman’

Chilean filmmaker makes a “trans-genre and transgender film.”

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SBIFF 2018: Day Eight

Sam Rockwell and Other Actors in Hollywood’s Side Lights

The crop of celebrities honored at this year’s award tributes is low-key, in that the klieg lights are being shone on actors who have artistically prospered in the chameleonic side lights of Hollywood.

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SBIFF 2018 So Far

Tributes, Panels, and Films Light Up the City

SBIFF has once again lit up our city in the manner to which we’ve grown accustomed, propitiously timed during the lead-up to the Academy Awards.

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SBIFF 2018 Day Seven

Directors as Cultural Superheroes

On that stage was genuinely an all-star collection of uniquely creative voices, whose work this year all deserved their Oscar nominations.

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SBIFF 2018: Day Six

Behind and Beneath the Scenery

Film artisans take center stage, and more must see films.

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SBIFF 2018: Day Five

Holding Court in a Divided World

The Lebanese film The Insult is a fascinating variation on the courtroom drama genre and a potent and contemporarily important tale of tolerance.

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SBIFF 2018: Day Four

Chasing Cursors and Screen Time

Screenwriters talk about their craft, Virtuosos get loose, and more films gems.

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SBIFF 2018: Day Three

Immortal Chameleon

During Gary Oldman’s Maltin Modern Master Award tribute it was clear that we were in the presence of a true acting chameleon.

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SBIFF 2018: Day Two

Reality Check-In

From the category of docs, one of the more powerful entries is ‘Living in the Future Past,’ a masterful ecological cautionary.

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SBIFF 2018: Day One

Out of the Cold

Opening night film, ‘The Public’, was one of the best festival-opening features in recent memory.

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‘The Polka King’ Explores the Unjustly Maligned and Ignored Musical Tradition

Jack Black Stars as Real-Life Bandleader Jan Lewan

Viewers at once are immersed in a polka-lined world and view it from a half-satirical remove.

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Suicidal Impulses Thread Through ‘Happy End’

Tale of Dysfunctional Family Dotted by Calamities amid Calm Circumstances

This tale of dysfunctional family ties is dotted by calamities amid deceptively calm circumstances.

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Shakespeare on Film Series at Pollock Theater

The Bard Goes Hollywood at UCSB

The Bard’s “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and more translated to the big screen.

‘In the Fade’ Is an Indictment of Hate and Xenophobia

Chilling Film Has Renewed Relevance in the Age of Trump

This chilling film about intolerance has renewed relevance in the age of Trump.

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‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Emphasizes the Feminist Narrative

Spike Lee’s TV Series Creates Brooklyn-ized Audio-Visual-Cultural-Carnal Tapestry

Creating a Brooklyn-ized audio-visual-cultural-carnal tapestry is part of Lee’s overall goal here, which he nicely achieves.

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Josef Woodard’s 2017 Top 10 TV and Films

The Year’s Best TV and Film

The ‘Indy’ film/television critic shares his favorite big- and small-screen offerings of the year.

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‘Godless’ Considers Little-Tapped Possibilities in Western Narrative

Scott Frank’s Seven-Episode Series Lures Viewers into Terrain Both Familiar and Fresh

Scott Frank’s seven-episode series lures viewers into terrain both familiar and fresh.

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‘The Breadwinner’ Is Anguished and Charming Film About Life Under Taliban Rule

Animated Film Lays Out Hardships In Tapestry of Fable-Like Storytelling and Harsh Realities

Hardships are laid out in a tapestry of sweet, fable-like storytelling and the harsh realities of the day.

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Reviewed | ‘BPM (Beats per Minute)’

Historical Slice of Life in the AIDS Struggle

Film conveys a historical slice of life in the AIDS struggle with a strong, supple cinematic voice.

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‘Mindhunter’ Is Latest Binge-Worthy Netflix Show

David Fincher’s Morbidly Hypnotic TV Series

David Fincher’s morbidly hypnotic series explores the psychology and behavioral science aspects of crime fighting.

‘The Square’

Illuminating, Sly, and Beautifully Made Film a Must-See

The illuminating, sly, and beautifully made film is a must-see in S.B.'s suddenly busy art-house scene.

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Reviewed | David Simon’s ‘The Deuce’

TV Guru’s Latest Series

Stories of heart and humanity meet at the juncture of bump and grind.

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‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’ Reviewed

Hulu Showing BBC’s Crime Series Directed by Jane Campion

Hulu showing BBC’s crime series directed by Jane Campion.

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Angelina Jolie on ‘First They Killed My Father’

Director Talks About Her Oscar-Nominated Film About Cambodia

The director talks about her Oscar-nominated film about Cambodia.

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Hollywood Berlin Film Series

UCSB’s Pollock Theater Presents Germanic Wit and Splendor at the Movies

UCSB’s Pollock Theater presents Germanic wit and splendor at the movies.

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Reviewed: ‘Django’

Biopic About Django Reinhart’s Life in Nazi France

This biopic explores Django Reinhart’s life during the Nazi occupation of France.

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‘Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World’

Reviewed: Fascinating Doc Packs a Lot of Info into Two-Hour Journey


This fascinating documentary packs a lot of info, sobering sociocultural revelations, and stirring music into a revelatory two-hour journey.


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‘Dolores’

Reviewed: Documentary About the United Farm Workers Revolution

The film gives valuable, equal time to Dolores Huerta, an undeservedly lesser-known but vitally important figure in the farmworker struggle and grape boycott.

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Riviera Theatre Reopens

SBIFF Reveals Its New and Improved Cinema Art House

SBIFF reveals new and improved cinema art house.

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‘Atypical’ Transcends Generic Family TV Fare

Shows Struggles of Life for Those with Autism and Their Families

Series takes care to touch on the struggles of life “on the spectrum,” for those affected and their families.

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'GLOW’ Coaxes Serio-Satirical Spirit

Netflix Show Plunges into the Dubious World of Lady Wrestling

Netflix show plunges into the dubious world of lady wrestling.

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‘Turn: Washington’s Spies’

Show Lures Viewers with Dramatic Historical Intrigue

Show lures viewers in with dramatic historical intrigue and stealthy wars of will and cunning.

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Patriot Has Shades of Gothic Dramedy

Eccentric Plots, Quirky Humor, and Ultra-Violence Akin to <em>Fargo</em> and <em>Twin Peaks</em>

Eccentric plot mapping and a dry, quirky humor mix with occasional bursts of ultra-violence in this compelling show.

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Fargo Kills It in Season 3

Minnesotan Gothic Translates Delectably to the Small Screen

The Minnesotan gothic translates delectably to the small screen.

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‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ in the Spotlight

Story of African-American Woman’s Impact on Health and Wellness

This film casts long-overdue light on the genuinely “immortal” role of a black woman’s impact on health and wellness in the past half-century.

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The CW’s ‘Riverdale’ Brings Drama to Thursdays

‘Archie’ Comics Dive Headfirst into 2017 with Hormone-Fueled Melodrama

This revolutionized take on classic Archie comics dives headfirst into 2017 with hormone-fueled melodrama.

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‘The Detour’ Hits Home

Samantha Bee Offers Salty Twist-Up on the TV Family Genre

Samantha Bee’s sitcom creation is a shamelessly irreverent and salty fun twist-up on the TV family genre.

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‘Feud: Bette and Joan’ Premiers on FX

Ryan Murphy Launches New TV Anthology

Ryan Murphy explores the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in new TV anthology.

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