Happy Susan Dey (2018) #susandey

December 10, 2018

Today is Susan Dey’s birthday. Born in 1952, Susan is best known for her roles on The Partridge Family and L.A. Law. I loved her in both, as well as a number of film and television projects including the fantastic indie film Echo Park. Susan now resides in the Hudson Valley, NY with her husband. Happy Birthday to my favorite actress.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season 1, Episode 1

December 10, 2018

Watched the first episode of the CW’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, based on the Archie comic book spin-off, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. As with another Greg Berlanti mega-hit, Riverdale based on Archie and his pals, this Sabrina is darker and more adult than the sweet comics or earlier adaptation making it a huge draw for teenagers craving sophistication in their pre-adult world. I appreciated this incarnation. I just don’t need to continue watching. I recommend it to anyone in love with this genre – supernatural comic book adaptations with an edge. 3 out of 5.

The Children Act

December 8, 2018

I love Emma Thompson. She’s one of the most talented actresses of my generation. I anticipated great things from the Ian McEwan novel adaptation, The Children Act. McEwan wrote the screenplay himself. Thompson gains support from a great group of actors including Rose Cavaliero, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Stanley Tucci, and Ben Chaplin. So what happened? The film read flat to me. I kept hoping something would happen to elevate the story. But no. Too bad. Great premise, excellent lead actor. Hmmm. 2 out of 5. Next.

If you crave outstanding Emma Thompson content, check out:
Fortunes of War
Impromptu
Howards End
The Remains of the Day
In the Name of the Father
Carrington
Wit
Love Actually
Angels in America

The Great British Baking Show: Holidays

December 6, 2018

Hoping to cash in on America’s obsession with The Great British Baking Show, the producers created two new episodes for the holiday season. Inviting former contestants back to the tent, The Great British Baking Show: Holidays pits four contestants against each other as they bake traditional and international holiday treats. Great in theory, this felt a bit smacked together. In the first episode, I even wondered how much alcohol was being consumed by hosts and guests. Both episodes seemed wonky to me. I’ll look forward to the next full season to dazzle and entertain. Meanwhile, 3 out of 5 for the Holidays episodes.

Edge of Seventeen (1998)

December 4, 2018

Rarely do I look back at a 20 year-old indie film and experience as much joy as I felt watching the remastered Edge of Seventeen (1998) from writer Todd Stephens and director David Moreton. The movie chronicles a high school boy coming out during the early 1980’s, his best friend – a girl who’s got a mad crush on him, and a summer working at an Ohio amusement park – think Cedar Point. Edge of Seventeen was filmed in Sandusky, Ohio the hometown of the writer. Featuring an outstanding cast of mostly unknown actors at the time including Chris Stafford, Tina Holmes (Six Feet Under), Anderson Gabrych, Stephanie McVay, and Lea DeLaria (Orange is the New Black). Remastered by Strand Releasing in 2016, this gay male indie classic not only stands the test of time, it reminds us how important indie film making truly is – creating authentic examples of our lives. Edge of Seventeen doesn’t shy away from sex, from messy adolescent sex, from the realities of sex. Compare this to the sweet, candy-colored gay male coming of age films today such as Love, Simon which I enjoyed immensely. But Love, Simon is a gay-centered film packaged for mass non-LGBT audiences which gay people can also enjoy. Edge of Seventeen is a gay-centered film produced by gay men for LGBT audiences which straight people can also enjoy. We need both obviously. Edge of Seventeen reminds me how much I crave film which speaks to me directly. I don’t need it all the time. I love exploring other cultures, other realities. But eventually don’t we all want to see ourselves reflected back in a filmmaker’s vision? Edge of Seventeen makes perfect eye contact with my younger self. Thanks Strand Releasing for remastering this classic. 5 out of 5.

78/52

December 2, 2018

Cinephiles, in particular Hitchcock maniacs take note. There’s a new documentary, 78/52 deconstructing the shower scene in Psycho. Yes, the entire film dedicates itself to figuring out what really makes that scene one of the finest ever created. The titles, 78/52 refers to the scene being composed of 78 setups and 52 cuts. Told you. Geek film lovers paradise. Featuring talking heads Marli Renfro, Tere Carrubba, Alan Barnette, Richard Stanley, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Leigh Whannell, Karyn Kusama, Peter Bogdanovich, Scott Spiegel, Daniel Noah, Mick Garris, Stephen Rebello, and Marco Calavita. And featuring the man himself, Alfred Hitchcock in interviews about Psycho. Fascinating, but definitely for nerds only. 4 out of 5.

For more on Psycho, catch Steve Hayes’ Tired Old Queen at the Movies video review on YouTube.
Find more on Hitchcock through Reel Charlie.

Hollywood, je t’aime (take 4)

December 1, 2018

December is the month for me to watch some of my favorite holiday films. Sometimes they are chock full of Christmas. Other times, they have a scene or two. Hollywood, je t’aime gives us some L.A. Christmas vibe wrapped up in a sweet and sexy gay male indie film. Love this one so much. Click to read Reel Charlie’s updated review.

 

The Kominsky Method

November 30, 2018

Love ending the month on a high note. Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin star in the Netflix series, The Kominsky Method. Douglas plays acting coach, Sandy Kominsky who’s had more success in the classroom than he’s ever had in auditions. Arkin plays Norman Newlander, Sandy’s uber-successful long-time agent. The show deals with something we rarely see – male friendships – real male friendships. No blowing up anything, no shooting anyone. This is real life. It’s the end of life, the last act for both characters as they begin to face their own mortality and embrace the joy of the what that last act has to offer. Brilliant writing, directing, acting with additional star turns from Sarah Baker and Nancy Travis, recurring role from Lisa Edelstein, and guest appearances by such diversity as Elliot Gould, Ann Margaret, Jay Leno, Patti LaBelle, Corbin Bernsen, Lauren Weedman (Looking), Eddie Money, William Belli, and Lainie Kazan. You really need to check The Kominsky Method out. It’s a true gem and an easy commitment: eight episodes under 30 minutes each. 5 out of 5.

Special thanks to my friend Nina & Joe for turning me on to this delicious show.

Crazy Rich Asians

November 28, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians turned out to be nothing what I expected. I assumed it would be silly, slapstick. I’m not really sure why other than I pay no attention to online buzz about films I want to watch. Somehow I thought Crazy Rich Asians would be of the (Asians) Gone Wild genre. Instead it landed squarely in the Cinderella Rom-Com genre. Didn’t feel I ever connected completely to the story. It wasn’t really good or great. I did watch it all the way through and I can see how it turned out to be so popular- because of said formula. It was fun seeing the sights of Singapore. But the formulaic plot just didn’t thrill me. And if you must have a gay male BFF, can he at least already be married or engaged or have a fully functional emotional life like the rest of the characters? Not all gay men want to spend their lives as eunuchs carrying the purses of their platonic girlfriends. 3 out of 5.

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1

November 26, 2018

So disappointed in the new Star Trek television series. I was hoping for a modern interpretation of this classic series. I was a big TNG fan, more than any other iteration. The opening episode spends a lot of time with the Captain and first officer, both cis gender female which makes a powerful statement. But the plot, writing, and situations bored me to tears. Does every action project have to appeal to a 14 year-old’s palette in order to be greenlit? Yawn. Even the first Star Trek gay male couple couldn’t lure me to stick around. Plus I find out one of them is killed in the first season anyway. Curse that damn trope. 2 out of 5. Next.


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