February 19, 2017
Finally sat down and watched the FX produced O.J. Simpson mini-series, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. I needed a major distraction from life this weekend. Of course did I watch the ESPN documentary series that’s been nominated for an Oscar to prepare for my annual library program, How to Win Your Oscar Pool I co-host each year with my colleague, teen librarian Nicole? Of course not. I binged the bio-pic series which was much more TV Movie of the Week. First let me say Sarah Paulson slays as Marcia Clark. It is literally worth watching all ten hours just to see Paulson in her element. She honestly deserves the accolades and awards she’s received from the project. Other stand-out performances include Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran and Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden. Many of the remaining cast delivered uneven performances. But it is what it is. This is not supposed to be high brown drama. This is exploitative good fun. I liked the series a lot more than I anticipated. I don’t remember many of the details from the 90’s crime and trial. 3.5 out of 5 for this salacious romp down memory lane.
If you like this kind of entertainment, look for Season 2 to focus on Hurricane Katrina, Season 3 to focus on the Gianni Versace murder, and Season 4 to focus on the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. Good times.
February 16, 2017
Didn’t know much about Trever Noah other than he took over The Daily Show when Jon Stewart left in 2015. Noah’s comedy special, African American premiered in 2013. It’s now on Netflix, so this was my first real introduction to Trevor. I found his comedy smart, quick, and his impressions hysterical. More the kind of humor that makes you wonder rather than crack up laughing, I enjoyed African American. 3.5 out of 5.
February 15, 2017
Wanda Sykes hour-long stand-up, What Happened … Ms. Sykes? taped in Los Angeles before the election proves Ms. Sykes still has what it takes to make a crowd laugh out loud. Obviously completely comfortable in her own skin, Wanda skewers herself, her French wife, her “white kids,” politics, and life over 50. Wanda’s keeps her comedy personal – like the friend you haven’t seen in a while who convinces you to stay out late and leaves you laughing the whole evening. 3.5 out of 5.
February 13, 2017
What a wonderfully uplifting film, Hidden Figures turned out to be. In my mind, the perfect way to educate is to entertain. Which is exactly what Hidden Figures did so right. It was packed with blatant racism and sexism. But through it all, the women supported each other, their families, and had so much smarts between them, they disintegrated the glass ceilings. Not an easy task to do. And why haven’t we heard of these women before? We all know the answer to that. Which is why films like Hidden Figures are so needed to change the tide, color and gender of the historical figures taught in school. When we celebrate everyone, we raise the bar for all. Inclusion and acknowledgement are not something to fear. They are an attainable goal to set our sights on. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe proved to be the triple crown for this film. Taraji in particular commanded the screen and displayed her acting skills in a role the antithesis of what she does on Empire. Such a treat spending two hours with these women teaching the world that quietly young women of color made important contributions to the successful history of our space program. 4 out of 5.
February 12, 2017
IMDb posted a list of 100 television shows that have either been renewed or cancelled. From their list I culled these Reel Charlie favorites:
Bloodline: Season 3 (final season)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3
The Fosters: Season 5
Good Girls Revolt: cancelled after Season 1
Mozart in the Jungle: Season 4
The OA: Season 2
One Mississippi: Season 2
Orange is the New Black: Season 5 (June 9, 2017)
Red Oaks: Season 3 (final season)
Not on the list but just as important:
Better Call Saul: Season 3
Black Mirror: Season 4
Broadchurch: Season 3
The Crown: Season 2 (with Michael C. Hall playing JFK)
Fargo: Season 3
Granchester: Season 3
Happy Valley: Season 3 (final season)
The Last Tycoon: Season 1
The Outs (unknown)
Tennison: Season 1 (Masterpiece 2017)
Transparent: Season 4
Versailles: Season 2
Rectify: Season 4 (final season)
Sense8: Season 2 (May 5, 2017
February 11, 2017
I surprisingly enjoyed Jackie directed by Pablo Larrain (No), and written by Noah Oppenheim who penned Allegiant and The Maze Runner. Not sure what I was expecting, but Natalie Portman enveloped Jacqueline Kennedy completely and we are rewarded with a deeply solemn and personal character study of an American woman the week after she left the White House still grieving the loss of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. Simply told in flashback while Jackie confides to a reporter, Jackie breathed life once again into the dark story many of us grew up with – remarkably for many born around the same time I was it is perhaps our first memory. Larrain drapes this memory with exquisite detail. From IMDb,
Production Designer Jean Rabasse’s sets, many painstakingly re-created from archival material, synched up with cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine’s cinematography. “Jean created these massive rooms and then Stéphane framed Natalie [Natalie Portman playing Jacqueline Kennedy] in these long shots so that you feel her loneliness and despair. The White House sometimes feels like a maze she doesn’t know how to get out of,” producer Mickey Liddell said.
A strong, intelligent supporting cast featuring Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt (no this isn’t Hurt’s final film – he’s still got 5 coming out through 2017), Richard E. Grant, and Beth Grant hold their own, but this is really Portman’s piece. And she brings it all together with grace and poise. Jackie‘s not quite a 4, but nearly. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 which is meant to intrigue you and make you wonder if there might be something in this film for you.
February 11, 2017
Fifteen seconds of teasing from Litchfield Prison and Season 5 of the luscious Orange is the New Black. Release date: June 9, 2017. Watch the teaser on YouTube.
February 10, 2017
Best television series new season date announcement ever. I dare you not to LOL over Grace and Frankie’s creative way to tell you when Season 3 streams. It’s June 24, 2017 btw. Watch it on YouTube.
February 9, 2017
Full disclosure, I’m a not a big fan of musicals. That said, I love White Christmas, Rent, Once, Zero Patience, The Music Man, Dream Girls, Funny Girl, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Victor Victoria to name just a few. So it certainly wasn’t the music that turned me off to La La Land. First and foremost, both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are weak singers. Perhaps one weak singer with one powerhouse might have pulled this off. But I cringed watching the two of them bore each other in what should have been a slam-bang series of numbers. Second they both came off as mousey. There wasn’t a spark between them. And finally, I will admit the opening gave me false hope – a huge spectacle of multicultural L.A. But the rest of the film turned into an ode to pasty white love. Where were the brown people? The Asian people? The LGBT people? Lots of black people playing musical instruments so the two white leads could swoon. How nice for them. Yes the landmarks were fun, the cinematography interesting, but none of this ultimately mattered because the leads were weak and out of their depth. I can’t believe this film has been nominated for fourteen Oscars. Fourteen nominations! What? I just can’t. 1 out of 5. Next.