Sal

August 24, 2016

salSometimes the striped-down nature of indie filmmaking showcases genius. Case in point: Tangerine, one of my favorite films from last year. So I sat down to watch James Franco’s Sal hoping for a similar feeling. Instead I was hit with a flatness, an emptiness that couldn’t be avoided by any sort of splash, since there wasn’t any – just a raw script and a few actors. I’m fascinated with Sal Mineo. His abbreviated life. His acceptance of his sexuality in the mid-70’s – not an easy feat for someone with two Oscar nods. He was brave beyond his years. He figured out how to reinvent himself. And he didn’t seem destined for self-destruction like so many other tortured Hollywood souls. I was hoping for more of that from this sweet little indie. Instead I left feeling empty. 2 out of 5.

Hillary’s America: Loved Ones (DNC)

August 23, 2016

For the first time in history, a nominee for the President of the United States has pledged to fight for full and equal rights for LGBTQ citizens. My entire life I have been voting for my equality and the equality of everyone in this country. For that reason, and a thousand more I am excited to vote for Hillary Clinton to be our next President.

None of us can live fully until we are all equal.

Watch the DNC’s powerful PSA, Hillary’s America: Loved Ones on YouTube.

Prime Suspect: Series 6 (Blu-ray)

August 22, 2016

Prime Suspect S1I forgot how powerfully the Prime Suspect series builds during the fifteen years it took place. Series 6, the penultimate season finds Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison dealing with immigration, identity, culture, and war – particularly the aftermath of torture and the reality of PTSD and fear. The story of Jasmina and her sister take Jane all the way to post-war Bosnia in search of clues to solve this ten-year mystery. Jane manages to break every rule along the way, alienating not only her staff, but her superior and even Scotland Yard. In the end, she proves her point, but at what cost? Meanwhile retirement looms as she prepares to bring it all home in the final season. Series 6 contains some of the best work by writers, directors, and actors in this outstanding police procedural show. 5 out of 5.

I’m a Porn Star

August 21, 2016

i'm a pornstarWatched Charlie David’s 2013 documentary I’m a Porn Star on men who work in gay porn. Already a bit dated due to the rapidly changing world of online porn, David’s doc focuses on four men – two of whom are clearly gay-for pay. I don’t know the statistics, but I couldn’t help but wonder, are 50% of the men who work in this industry identifying as gay-for-pay? Of course the idea of being any kind of star in this industry is nostalgic at best. People who make it today – their career trajectories resemble YouTube celebrities rather than the classic porn stars of the 80’s and 90’s. Ultimately the film lost steam a little more than halfway through as I got irritated with the talking heads, particularly the stars featured on the cover art. Celebrity in the adult world of 2016 is fleeting at best, non-existent in reality. So perhaps three years ago this was simply the toll of the end of an era seen through the eyes of the last few people trying to make it big in a world changing much too rapidly to chronicle. Perhaps that’s the ultimate point of technology in our culture, no matter what the content. I was hoping for so much more – fun, dissection, understanding. Too bad. 2 out of 5.

Everything we learned about Amazon’s fall line-up (Mashable)

August 20, 2016

Mashable gives us Amazon’s fall series release dates for our Google and Outlook calendars including Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. From Mashable,

Amazon’s award-winning show is continuing to dig deeper in its storylines in season three, which launches on Sept. 23.

 The show, which is nominated for 16 Emmys this year, follows Maura (played by Jeffrey Tambor) as she seeks to become the woman she envisions through gender confirmation surgery.

“Season three, the theme is to come out of your shell,” writer Our Lady J said during the panel. “Most people think of someone who has transitioned as going from male to female, not as being assigned the wrong gender at birth.”

Read the full article with links to clips from all their shows.

The Tunnel: Season 1

August 19, 2016

tunnel s1Honestly I tried loving The Tunnel, the British-French remake of the Danish/Swedish series The Bridge which FX turned into an American series by the same name about a grisly murder whose victim lands literally on the border between the two countries. The Tunnel has all the ingrediants I love about murder mysteries – strong yet flawed leading characters, smart writing, great location shots, international plots. I watched through to episode 8. Finally I had to admit I just couldn’t keep track of what was going on and not in a good way like watching The Wire for the first time. I know it’s kind of weird to stop watching a series with only two episodes to go until the finale, but honestly I’m confused and not interested. The quality of the show is excellent. The story is simply confusing. I lost interest. 2 out of 5 for The Tunnel.

Laverne Cox on Groundbreaking Doubt Role: ‘It’s Wonderful to Be a Black Transgender Woman on CBS’ (TV Line)

August 19, 2016
laverne cox doubt

TV Line (Courtesy of CBS)

Laverne Cox lands role on network television show. From TV Line,

On CBS’ midseason legal drama Doubt, Laverne Cox plays a fiercely competitive Ivy League-educated attorney. Oh, and she’s also broadcast television’s first full-time transgender character — a distinction not lost on Cox.

“What’s so exciting about [the role of] Cameron and being on CBS is I’m an avid TV watcher and, growing up, I did not see people like me on television,” the Orange is the New Black actress told reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. “It’s wonderful to get to play a character like that. And to be a black transgender woman in that position on CBS feels really special.”

More than anything, Cox admitted, “I’m really grateful to have a job as an actor.”

Read the full article. 

11.22.63

August 18, 2016

11.22.63I tried listening to the audiobook version of Stephen King’s novel, 11.22.63 when it was released but I couldn’t get through it. The reader chose a strange speech impediment for one of the characters which turned me off.  Still I wanted to give Hulu’s first foray into original content a shot, so I sat down last weekend to watch 11.22.63. James Franco whatever you think of his crazy career always produces a good product. He’s likable – you want his characters to win. And the plot is fascinating – going back in time to stop Oswald from killing Kennedy. I got through three episodes of the mini-series and lost interest. It’s an okay treatment, but not worth the investment of time for me. I was hoping for better. 2 out of 5.

Pay TV providers post record subscriber losses (CNET)

August 17, 2016

cut the cordCord Cutting news from CNET,

The cable, satellite and telecom pay TV industry lost at least 665,000 subscribers in the second quarter of this year, more net losses than any previous quarter.

As cord cutters binge, pay TV purges.

Cable, satellite and telecom pay TV providers lost more subscribers last quarter than ever, according to a report on Monday from Leitchman Research.

“The top pay-TV providers lost about 665,000 subscribers in the traditionally weak second quarter, with net losses in 2Q 2016 surpassing the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc, in a statement.

The report breaks down the three groups of companies by net subscriber loss, and AT&T’s U-verse came out the biggest loser, shedding 391,000 subscribers. That’s more than half of the whole industry’s total losses last quarter. The telecom giant has downplayed U-verse in favor of DirectTV since it acquired the satellite TV service last year, offering incentives like wireless bundles. DirectTV added 342,000 subscribers in the second quarter, its largest since 2009.

Cable companies combined for a relatively modest loss of 225,000 video subscribers, mostly on the strength people willing to pay for faster broadband.

The report comes on the heels of a similar top-line number from analyst Craig Moffett, who estimates the total as an even higher 757,000 subscriber loss.

“The gap between cord-cutting, or eliminating one’s pay-TV subscription altogether, and cord-shaving, where skinny bundles replace fat ones, is getting wider,” Moffett said.

Read the full article.

The Great British Baking Show: Season 3

August 17, 2016

great british baking show s3

Spoiler alerts: What a colossal treat the past few weeks has been binging through the third season of the best contestant reality show on the planet – The Great British Baking Show. Obviously Tamal made the show all the better this year. Read all about Reel Charlie’s crush on this sweet doctor/baker from an earlier post. Tamal made it all the way to the finals! I think Mary and Paul picked the best baker for the win. Nadia was consistently great in each of the three final challenges. And her husband’s love and pride made me a bit weepy. Now I just have to figure out how to watch season 2 which I somehow missed on PBS. Ugh, a la carte streaming can work even my nerves occasionally. Meanwhile if you want a feel-good hour filled with delicious baked goods and the sweetest, most supportive contestants ever, The Great British Baking Show is the place to be. 5 out of 5.


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