Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, November 20, 2021, or: My Friday Night Encounter with ‘Ragtime,’ Disney+, and ‘Star Wars’

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in west-central Florida on Saturday, November 20, 2021. It’s a cool late fall day. Currently, the temperature is 76˚F (25˚C) under cloudy skies. With humidity at 80% and the wind blowing from the northeast at 18 MPH (30 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 75˚F (24˚C). Today’s forecast calls for light rain throughout the day. The high will be 80˚F (26˚C). Tonight, we can expect cloudy skies and a low of 67˚F (20˚C).

Last night I watched – for the first time, in its entirety – director Milos Forman’s Ragtime, a 1981 adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s eponymous 1975 novel about the lives of a New Rochelle, NY family in early 20th Century America amid the growing tensions between white America, immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe, and blacks.

As written by Michael Weller and an uncredited Bo Goldman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Perfect Storm), Ragtime doesn’t attempt to bring Doctorow’s entire novel to the screen. The book covers a decade’s worth of events, while the film concentrates on the story arc of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Howard Rollins, Jr.), a black piano player whose talent is matched only by his desire for justice in an unjust America at the turn of the 20th Century.

Per Ragtime’s packaging blurb:

Layering fascinating characters with the riotous events of early 1900s America, the best-seller by E.L. Doctorow became a cinematic epic under the direction of two-time Oscar winning director Miloš Forman. From the emerging New York suburb of New Rochelle to the flashy spectacle of Atlantic City, a family faces racial tensions, scandals and violence that will test everything they believe in. Newly remastered from a 4K film transfer for its 40th Anniversary, RAGTIME features an unforgettable music score by Randy Newman, and an incredible all-star cast that includes James Cagney in his first (and final) role in nearly two decades, Donald O’Connor, Mandy Patinkin, Mary Steenburgen, Debbie Allen, Elizabeth McGovern, Moses Gunn, Pat O’Brien, Jeff Daniels, Fran Drescher, John Ratzenberger, Michael Jeter, Norman Mailer, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Now, I bought the made-on-demand (MOD) DVD version of Ragtime earlier this year and watched roughly two-thirds of the movie – at 2 hours and 35 minutes, it’s one of the longer films in my collection – so I already had some idea how at least one of the story arcs would end. But since I knew the Blu-ray would be released on November 16, I decided to wait till I got it to watch Ragtime from start to finish.

I’m not going to do a review of Ragtime today; it’s the weekend, and as much as I love to write reviews, they require a lot of time and effort on my part, and I don’t feel like being cooped up in my room all day. Suffice it to say, though, Ragtime should have won at least one of the eight Academy Awards it was nominated for (Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score).

After I watched Ragtime and everyone had gone to bed, I watched the brief preview for the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series and a few episodes of Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+.  I should have just watched a single episode of The Bad Batch; I was already drowsy when I decided to watch Disney+ and nodded off a few times whilst I watched the first of the three episodes I remember I tried to plow through.

As a result, I remember most of the Obi-Wan Kenobi show’s stuff but pitifully far less about The Bad Batch. Fortunately, I can stream Disney+ on my TV (albeit without the Roku-generated subtitles) and try watching the animated series at my leisure.

Well, Dear Reader, I have been tap-tap-tapping away for a while, and as you can imagine, I am a bit tired from staying up so late. So I’ll close for now and bid you a fond adieu. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, get vaccinated, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

2 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, November 20, 2021, or: My Friday Night Encounter with ‘Ragtime,’ Disney+, and ‘Star Wars’

    1. Cool!

      I hope you like it. It’s a well-done movie that is another of the Czech-born Forman’s explorations of an individual (whether it’s McMurphy in “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest,” Coalhouse Walker in “Ragtime,” or Mozart in “Amadeus”) who defies the arbitrary rules of a society to preserve one’s honor or dignity.

      Not my usual movie fare, but worth watching every so often.

      Liked by 1 person

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