Off Camera: Series 1: Laura Dern

May 23, 2018

Sam Jones’ interview show, Off Camera takes an hour one-on-one with a talent in the entertainment industry. Netflix streams the series. I zipped through the list and found Laura Dern’s episode. Outstanding hour with Laura and Sam as they attempt to put into words what it means to create a meaningful body of work in film and television. Laura Dern’s always been a favorite, but now I want to look up her work I missed over the years. Off Camera, now in its ninth season is a must-see for anyone interested in digging deep with someone you admire. 5 out of 5.

Reel Charlie highly recommends the following Laura Dern work:
Rambling Rose (1991)
Citizen Ruth (1996)
Ellen: The Puppy Episode (1997)
October Sky (1999)
Enlightened (2011-2013)
99 Homes (2014)
Big Little Lies (2017 – 2019)

Comfort Food:
Blue Velvet (1986)
Jurassic Park (1993)



May 22, 2018

National Geographic releases another Jane Goodall documentary, Jane. This one boasts 100 hours of never before seen footage from the beginning of Jane’s career in the late 1950’s forward. The film delves into Jane’s personal life, specifically her first marriage to wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick and the birth and childhood of their son Grub. I enjoyed Jane. I just didn’t love it like other docs on Goodall. And it could have been trimmed to an hour. Still – 3 out of 5. Love Jane!

Mum: Season 1

May 21, 2018

Watched the first two episodes of the British family dramedy, Mum starring Leslie Manville (Phantom Thread, and nearly every Mike Leigh film). Mum is a lovely half-hour show about a newly widowed 60-something woman struggling to find her way after the death of her husband. Mum is quiet and quirky. I wanted to love it more, but it just didn’t grab me like I wanted it to. So I’m saying goodbye. 3 out of 5 for Mum.

Mum is currently available on DVD and Britbox.

Sense8: The Series Finale (trailer)

May 20, 2018

From Netflix,

Together until the end. From our cluster to yours, the Sense8 Series Finale comes to Netflix on June 8 (2018).

No matter the limitations with this series, remembering Sense8 fills me with excitement and hope – a world united in every aspect. A dream which needs to become reality. I will miss these characters. For now let’s celebrate the show as we get once last glimpse at Capheus, Sun, Nomi, Kala, Riley, Wolfgang, Lito, and Will.

Reel Charlie’s review:
Sense8: Season 1
Sense8: A Christmas Special
Sense8: Season 2

Philip Morgan (Farley Granger) and Brandon Shaw (John Dall) in Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) #DynamicDuos @ClassicMovieHub @CitizenScreen

May 19, 2018

Classic movie blogs, Once Upon a Screen and Classic Movie Hub created a Dynamic Duos 2-day marathon for film bloggers interested in writing about perfect pairings in classic film. The only rule to keep it classic involved a selection from films made before 1970. Ready. Set. Go.

I chose Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rope (1948). The characters of Philip Morgan (Farley Granger) and Brandon Shaw (John Dall) create a deliciously evil couple. 70 years ago and with the Hays Code in high gear, filmmakers weren’t allowed to delve into many topics which didn’t promote traditional values. including homosexuality. Hitchcock managed to get around this in Rope, Strangers on a Train, and Rebecca by using smart, coded dialogue and alerting more observant viewers to certain undertones in the plot. Looking at Rope in 2018, it’s obvious Philip and Brandon are together. It’s hard to imagine anyone not noticing in 1948. But 70 years ago many people needed things spelled out. I love Hitchcock for messing with the censors’ heads and pushing the envelope as far as he could. I’ve seen Rope many times. Reel Charlie reviewed it back in 2014. For today’s focus on the boys, here is some of what I said,

Two young men who appear to be a couple kill a friend of theirs and then invite the deceased’s parents, girlfriend, and best friend over for a party while the body sits in a trunk in the living room. Joining the group is a former prep school teacher of the boys played by Jimmy Stewart who apparently taught Brandon (John Dall) and Granger’s Philip the Nietzschean (concept of) supermen whose superiority of intellect exempted them from laws that govern the rest of us. Rope’s original intent to induce fear into the audience by implying that too much education can lead to anarchy creates a wonderful camp aesthetic today. In the end, Hitchcock weaves a scary tale of suspense mixed with snarky, urban, intellect banter.

So that’s the plot, onto the delicious evilness. Brandon’s the obvious top in this relationship. He’s Manson to Philip’s Squeaky Fromme. Brandon remains calm, taking wicked pleasure in the victim’s family and friends who join the party. Philip’s a bundle of nerves which gets worse as the evening wears on. In fact it is Philip’s jitters which make Jimmy Stewart’s character Rupert begin to smell foul play. Brandon and Philip dance through the gathering becomes all the more diabolical since the audience knows the body’s in the trunk which doubles as an hors d’oeuvre table. Even the clueless maid realizes something is amiss. Farley Granger and John Dall play off each other magnificently. Granger’s innocence balances naturally against Dall’s effete aggression. Brandon is never happier than when he’s in control, orchestrating Philip and their guests. Rope could have easily been used to create a music video for Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. The boys’ fate appears doomed from the start. Appropriate use of the word boys since the characters really feel like immature kids playing grown-up. Only the part of being an adult they choose to emulate happens to be murder. What keeps the audience in suspense is how and when they will be discovered. Meanwhile we get to take an extravagant journey with two of the best dressed murderers ever portrayed on-screen.

Love Farley Granger and John Dall. Love Alfred Hitchcock. Love Rope. 5 out of 5.

Dear White People: Season 2

May 18, 2018

I love the complexity of the Netflix series, Dear White People. It uses the fearless quality of a college student to describe the insanity of the world we inhabit. A world where many people don’t seem to care about anything but themselves. Dear White People isn’t afraid to put it all up in our face. And I’m grateful for that. It’s also very funny. I watched the first 3 episodes of Season 2. I love Sam and her inability to focus in episode 1. Episode 2 explores how much things have not changed on college campuses over the decades. And episode 3 shows us how awkward Lionel can be trying to get his gay groove on. For some reason I lost interest. Not because the show isn’t great. It is. Maybe I’m just not in the mood for college angst. 3 out of 5 for this topical and underrated show.

‘Paper Boys,’ ‘Gay Husbands’ and 8 other streaming gay series to binge now (Queerty)

May 17, 2018

Web series are a great way to binge quickly through a series and discover new talent along the way. Usually web series episodes last anywhere from 3-20 minutes. Think short films but instead – short television. Queerty hunts down 8 gay series to watch. Check out YouTube and Vimeo for more series of all kinds. From Queerty,

The advent of the streaming age opened up a whole new catalog of film and television content, and an even wider audience to view it. Naturally, we are ahead of the curve with not one, not two, but three specialized streaming services focusing specifically on queer film and television and getting said content to the community. Meanwhile, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Video are also generating reams of first-rate queer-friendly content.

Revry, Dekkoo and World of Wonder Plus have also opened the door to a new generation of creators who finally have the platform and budget to produce series too incendiary for network audiences.

Read more at Queerty.

Some web series Reel Charlie has reviewed over the years:
Go-Go Boy Interupted
The Outs
Stupid Idiots

And perhaps my favorite web series, The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo. Wickedly funny. One final word: Freckle.

Unforgotten: Season 2

May 16, 2018

ITV continues their outstanding new British police procedural with Season 2 of Unforgotten. Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar are back as Cassie and Sunny, partners unearthing historical crimes. Season 1 takes place in the 1970’s. This season we travel back to the 1990’s with several complicated suspects and a huge surprise ending. Don’t be fooled by Unforgotten‘s quiet demeanor. There’s nuance and suspense in this series that feels very adult in ways which overshadow the immaturity of many police shows. 4 out of 5 for this captivating effort.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition Photos #downtonexhibition #downtonabbey

May 15, 2018

Photos from my visit to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition on 12 May 2018.

Thomas’ suit

The table setting

A standing mirror with video built into it.


Lady Grantham’s drawing-room with video of Violet’s best lines. Constant laughter at this station.


Daisy’s section. My dog’s namesake.


Rosamund’s hat in a case with gowns in the glass’ reflection.


Downton Abbey: The Exhibition

May 14, 2018

Finally made it Downton Abbey: The Exhibition this weekend in New York City thanks to my dear friend Nina. Three glorious floors of an in-depth look at the sets, costumes, characters and history surrounding this iconic television series. Awe, laughter, goosebumps, smiles and even a few tears shed during our tour of the Crawleys’ estate. Gorgeous curation makes this a must-see for any fan of the series.

That’s me in front of a portrait of Lady Rosamund Painswick played by Samantha Bond.

Visit Downton Abbey: The Exhibition in New York City through June 30, 2018.
Read Reel Charlie’s reviews of Downton Abbey: Season 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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