Archive for the ‘Adaptation’ Category

Half Bad: The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself

March 6, 2023

Thanks to my dear friend Mark for telling me about this wonderful short-lived series, Half Bad: The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself. Should have been multiple seasons, but the powers that be – Netflix – nuked this one after just one. From Deadline,

Based on Sally Green’s YA novel Half Bad, the series tells the story of Nathan Byrne (Jay Lycergo), an illegitimate son of a dangerous witch, Marcus Edge (David Gyasi), struggling to overcome his odds of following the footsteps of his father as he discovers his true identity alongside his friends.

I really grew to love this show so much. Great characters. More sophisticated than a CW/Freeform series, but just as fun. It’s totally worth watching even though it’s only one season. Stand out actors include Jay Lycurgo as Nathan Byrne in the lead – he’s the bastard, Nadia Parkes as Annalise O’Brien – major female power, Emilien Vekemans as Gabriel – finally someone does an homage to Buffy’s Spike and makes him gay, and Karen Connell as Ceelia – a true amazon warrior. Not too much teenage angst, but lots and lots of gore and violence. But they’re witches so it’s ok. LOL. At least for me. 4 out of 5 for this gem.

Half Bad: The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself currently streams on Netflix.

CB Strike

March 1, 2023

J.K. Rowling writes a series of adult mystery novels under the pen name Robert Galbraith. I read the first one. It was ok. Rowling told more than she showed. I never went on to read the other books. Recently I discovered there is a television series based on the books named CB Strike which is the name of the private investigator – Cormoran Strike who solves the cases. I tried watching and nearly made it through the first two episodes from the first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. Ultimately it felt flat to me. Not surprising. And why does every damaged investigator/cop have to drink? Not very creative. 2 out of 5. Next.

CB Strike currently streams on Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube premium.

All Creatures Great and Small: Season 3

February 27, 2023

The third season of the beloved modern British version of James Herriot’s novels, All Creature Great and Small grows a bit darker with the specter of World War II looming overhead. It’s still a bright and cheerful show with incredible locations. There’s still sweet animal stories, but also the threat of tuberculosis worries the farmers. James and Helen begin married life. All the characters stretch their romantic wings, at least a bit. And towards the end of the season, we begin to wonder if James and Tristen will join the army. Neither has to because they are vets. But will they anyway? Innocent, and beautiful, the occasional dullness of the plot can be dismissed because the stories all come from good intentions. And points for having a warm and cozy Christmas episode to wrap up the season. 3.5 out of 5.

All Creatures Great and Small currently streams on PBS.

The Remains of the Day 4K

February 26, 2023

Happy 30th Anniversary to Merchant Ivory’s The Remains of the Day. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, the new 4K disk deserved an updated review. A perfect film. Click to read Reel Charlie’s review.

The Remains of the Day currently streams on various streaming platforms for a rental fee or free from your public library on disk.


January 29, 2023

Caught the gritty, gay indie Urbania from filmmakers Jon Matthews and Philippe Denham about a man who loses his boyfriend to a hate crime and seeks revenge. Based on the play, Urban Folk Tales by Daniel Reitz, the film takes its shape from all sorts of people telling urban legend stories throughout the piece as the protagonist Charlie reveals more and more about that fateful night.  The couple’s played by Dan Futterman and Matt Keeslar. In 2000, gay parts were still being given to straight actors. They both do a good job. It’s just unfortunate that actor’s like Alan Cumming had to be relegated to a tiny part. The first half of the film drags in parts. I remembered loving it 20+ years ago when it was released. In 2023, it meandered a bit until the last act. It’s a good ending from an ok film. I was still so hungry for gay indies even back in 2000, I am sure I rated this higher. Looking at it today, it’s a 3.5. Definitely worth consideration. Hard to believe 2000 looks so long ago especially the fashion and the scenes of NYC.

Luckiest Girl Alive

November 5, 2022

Mila Kunis hits it out of the park in Luckiest Girl Alive, an adaptation of the novel by Jessica Knoll. Kunis plays Ani, an ambitious, NYC writer who’s engaged to a very wealthy old money young man. Without giving too much away, Ani’s past never lets go of her and she must decide to face up to her multiple trauma or bury it forever as she embarks on her new life. Finn Whitrock, Connie Britton, and Jennifer Beals co-star, but this is really Kunis’s film and her performance is captivating. This one may be difficult for some viewers to sit through, but the reward makes witnessing the trauma worth it. 4 out of 5.

Luckiest Girl Alive currently streams on Netflix.

Wisting: Season 3

October 23, 2022

Wisting: Season 3 brings back FBI agent Maggie Griffin played impeccably by Carrie-Ann Moss. Sven Nordin returns in the title role along with Thea Green Lundberg, Nads Ousdal, Lars Berge, and Ingeborg Raustøl rounding out the cast. This is pitch perfect police procedural done in the Nordic Noir vein. Based on Jørn Lier Horst’s The Night Man, Wisting: Season 3 packs a lot of secrets and reveals into this four episode season. Nearly every character has some major screwed up personal life arc. Fun to binge and soak in the multiple story lines and the beautiful Larvik, Norway. 4 out of 5.

Wisting: Season 3 currently streams on Sundance Now and is available on disk from your local public library.

The Watcher

October 21, 2022

So much fun and just in time for the Halloween season, Ryan Murphy creates another chilling limited series, although The Watcher is much more suspense than gore which makes me love it all the more. Based on a true story, Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale play a Manhattan couple with two kids who decide to get out of town and move to a quieter neighborhood in the suburbs of Westfield, NJ, about 45 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Soon after the family moves into their dream home, they begin receiving disturbing letters from someone called, The Watcher. It’s creepy good, spine-tingling entertainment trying to figure out who might be the culprit in a race against time with the family’s sanity. Joining Watts and Cannavale are an incredible cast of actors including Isabel Gravitt and Luke David Blumm as the kids, Mia Farrow, Margo Martindale, Richard Kind, Terry Kinney, Joe Mantello, Michael Nouri, Seth Gabel, Noma Dumezweni, Henry Hunter Hall, Christopher McDonald, and Jennifer Coolidge. Coolidge is her usual amazing self, playing a ruthless real estate agent perfectly. Dumezweni, Farrow, and Martindale also shine as a private investigator and two nosy neighbors respectively. Loved this creepy series. Perfect for an October binge fest. 4 out of 5.

The Watcher currently streams on Netflix.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

October 15, 2022

Based on the 2012 tinsel town tell-all, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2018) follows Scotty Bowers in his later years (90+) as he reminisces on his post-WWII life acting as a sort of sweet pimp to the stars. The book and documentary have a polarizing effect on the public. There are people who laugh at the absurdity of Scotty telling tales after all these stars are dead and gone. And there are other reasonable people who feel like it has to be true, simply because of the pressure the studio system put on its stars from the 40’s and beyond – they had to have some way of blowing off steam so to speak. Told with frankness and kindness, Scotty comes off as sort of a Mother Teresa of the Hollywood underground sex scene in the second half of the 20th Century. At first, I dismissed Scotty. Then I finally sat down and watched the documentary. There are so many threads of truth – Rock Hudson, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, I can’t help but think a lot of this must be true, even if it might also be embellished. The oddest part of the reveal was not the Hollywood name dropping. It was the idea that in his 60’s Scotty would marry a woman who had no idea of his past. He never told her about his past. And then when he publishes the book, she wants no part of it. She’s also obviously homophobic in one scene. Why would a man who is gay or fluid or bisexual marry someone who’s not accepting of LGBTQ folk? And why would Scotty keep that part of his life from her, if he indeed celebrated sexuality his entire adult life? He seems so gleeful about sex and his part in helping others, even as he remembers the best times of his life well into his 90’s. In some ways I suppose Scotty embraced the modern definition of the word queer long before this new generation. Whatever you believe or don’t believe, Scotty’s tale is a salacious, saucy story. Lots of fun. None of the sex stories made me cringe. His hoarding in multiple homes really made me cringe. But the truth to his sexcapades whether they are true, false, or what I believe – somewhere gloriously in-between do make you wonder about the rigidity of the Hollywood system, and the people who bought into it to work and become stars. Whatever you believe, there was a lot of hormones pinging. 3.5 out of 5.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood currently streams on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Plex, PlutoTV, Tubi, and The Roku Channel.

Five Days at Memorial

August 31, 2022

Five Days at Memorial is a fictionalized disaster medical drama limited series adaptation of the non-fiction 2013 book by Sheri Fink. When historians look back on the early 21st Century, the aftermath of Katrina will be seen as one of the worst natural disasters. Of course with climate change we are certainly headed for worse natural disasters in our lifetime. What Katrina will be remembered for is the horrific lack of response by the local, state, and federal government. Why? First there’s Bush’s appointees – at the top of the list Michael D. Brown who were hired as cronies, not as experts in their fields. Sure, go ahead and give your friends jobs. Just don’t give them the first Under Secretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) in the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Second and this one is the worst sins of Katrina, no one cared about rescuing poor people of color. If you hesitate on that last sentence, image a Katrina-like storm hitting Newport, RI or Santa Barbara, CA. Enough said.

The limited series is incredible. Full of trauma and suspense. Yes, it’s entertainment. But it reminds us in a respectful way of the horror people faced, both patients and hospital staff as everyone tried to continue to care for the sick and dying during the worst disaster the U.S. had ever seen –  over 1,800 fatalities. The cast is outstanding including Cherry Jones, Vera Farmiga, Cornelius Smith, Jr., Robert Pine, Adepero Oduye, Julie Ann Emory, Michael Gaston, and Molly Hager. Each of the five episodes focuses on one day during Katrina and then after the levees broke. I will tell you the intensity builds and builds. By the final episode, I was sobbing during several scenes. I don’t want to forget Katrina. None of us should. 4 out of 5 for the haunting Five Days at Memorial.

Five Days at Memorial currently streams on Apple TV+.

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