Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

The Little Foxes

October 4, 2017

Every so often, I watch a classic film for the first time and get blown away. Such was the case with The Little Foxes. Talent lives in every inch of this movie. The remarkable cast includes Bette Davis, Teresa Wright, Herbert Marshall, Richard Carlson, Dan Duryea, and Patricia Collinge (two years away from reuniting with Teresa Wright in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt). Directed by the luminous William Wyler (The Best Years of Our LivesThe Heiress, Funny Girl), screenplay by Lillian Hellman with additional scenes and dialogue written by Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell, and music by Meredith Willson, with costume design by Orry-Kelly. But honestly it’s the writing and delivery which makes this film so strong, so lasting. Nearly every minute captivated me. Not an easy task for a 75-year-old work. The Little Foxes does that and more. It rises above melodrama and Southern stereotypes to become that illusive perfect classic film. 5 out of 5 for the Bette Davis masterpiece.

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Transparent: Season 4

October 1, 2017

“Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you and anoint you…”

Who knew the Pfeffermans were as obsessed with Jesus Christ Superstar as I was when I was a little boy. And they remember the words to the songs after all these years. Even Maura’s sister! Such a magnificent and glorious television series Transparent continues to be. Is this the most loving, dysfunctional family you’ve ever met? Does yours rival them? Mine sure doesn’t. Which is probably why I love watching them tick. This season the family connects with their spiritual and social roots on a trip to Israel. Every one comes together and then proceeds to find their own corner and take some time out to contemplate life: Josh at meetings, Sarah with Len, Ali at the farm, and Maura and Shelly meditating in the midst of the chaos. The only logical family member of Maura’s who gets any back story time this season is the luminous Davina, my favorite non-Pfefferman. We dig deeper into Davina’s past to find her vulnerabilities. I love Davina even more after this season. She is the heart, soul, and calm of the show. Alexandra Billings brings nuance and wisdom to the role. Can’t say enough how much I adore Transparent. 5 out of 5 for this family ensemble.

Beatriz at Dinner

September 28, 2017

What a colossal disappointment Beatriz at Dinner turned out to be. From the trailer I was expecting a delicious drawing-room play based on heightened feelings post-election. I got some of that, but the final act of Beatriz veered into a complete cop-out. Without revealing any spoilers, let’s just say the final reaction of the title character seemed completely out of character and unnecessary. What a waste of talent. The cast couldn’t have been handed picked better: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Jay Duplass (Transparent), Amy Landecker (Transparent), and Chloë Sevigny. Damn shame. 1 out of 5 because the ending made me so angry. Next.

Oscars: France Selects ‘120 Beats Per Minute’ for Foreign-Language Category (Hollywood Reporter)

September 27, 2017

From The Hollywood Reporter,

Robin Campillo’s drama won the Grand Prize at this year’s Cannes film festival.

France has selected Robin Campillo’s 120 Beats Per Minute as its submission in the best foreign-language film category of the Oscars.

The film won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

The selection committee was chaired by National Cinema Center (CNC) head Frederique Bredin and composed of executives including Cannes Film Festival head Thierry Fremaux, French Academy president Alain Terzian, UniFrance film body head Serge Toubiana and former head Jean-Paul Salome, as well as CNC financing commissioner Teresa Cremisi.

BAFTA- and Cesar-nominated director Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel) and Cesar winner Deniz Gamze Erguven, director of the Oscar-nominated Mustang, rounded out the committee.

The commission selected from a shortlist including 120 Beats Per Minute, Mathieu Amalric’s Cannes Un Certain Regard special prize winner Barbara and Redoubtable from Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist).

Read the full article.

How to be a Slut in America – Part 1

September 19, 2017

Filmmaker Brian Jordan Alvarez is creating some of the most interesting episodic media from a gay man’s perspective. First there was The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, a preposterous and effervescent look at 20-something life in L.A. Alvarez followed that up creating Stupid Idiots with writing partner Stephanie Koenig. Now he showcases a more serious side with Part 1 of How to be a Slut in America. This is less silly, more honest portrayal of a young man figuring out how he wants to live out his romantic and sexual life. Brian Jordan Alvarez continues to put himself out there and rewards us with outstanding content. 4 out of 5.

Watch How to be a Slut in America, Part 1 on YouTube. (NSFW)

Viceroy’s House

September 17, 2017

Gurinder Chadha’s (What’s Cooking, Bend it Like Beckham) personal film about the Partition of India during the 1940’s might be a bit light on the savagery of history, but it’s gorgeous to watch unfold. Chadha dedicates the film to her grandmother who was separated from her family during the Partition and miraculously found her way back to them. So if the film sometimes veers into Celine Dion crescendos, I give the director a pass since she’s telling the story from her very personal perspective of what the independence did to her own family. Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson play the Viceroy Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten perfectly. The costuming, sets (how did they manage to recreate the palace?), location shooting, and interiors all picture perfect as we’ve come to expect from U.K. and Indian productions. But the real stars of this film are Huma Qureshi and Manish Dayal as the Shakespearean lovers, Aalia and Jeet. Their story transforms the timeline from cold and political to deeply personal. Mr. Dayal can be difficult to watch at times because he is so alarmingly handsome, you, ok I forget to pay attention to the story. In the end, viewers of harsh, war-torn stories might be a taken aback by the simplicity and niceties of the film. I found the balance between the cruel world and Chadha’s modern lush creation satisfying. 3.5 out of 5.

For a taste of how Gurinder Chadha interprets the American Thanksgiving holiday, check out her Reel Charlie favorite What’s Cooking.

Atypical: Season 1

September 11, 2017

Atypical took me by complete surprise. I guess I wasn’t expecting to love it so much. Kier Gilchrist stars as Sam, an 18 year-old boy living on the Autism spectrum. Gilchrist proved his chops as son Marshall or (nickname) Marshmallow on Toni Collette’s The United States of Tara a few years ago. I just knew he and Brie Larson were destined for a great future. Gilchrist’s Sam is in his last year of high school. He’s beginning to want to break away from the safe world his parents have created for him. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport play his parents perfectly. Newcomer Brigette Lundy-Paine shines brightly as Sam’s younger sister who looks out for her quirky big brother. Rounding out the cast are Amy Okuda as Sam’s therapist and Nik Dodani as his dorky co-worker who is an unreliable fount of wisdom. Honestly the series focuses on the autism, but ends up being an ensemble piece as each character has their moment or two. Beautifully written, acted, and directed, I can’t recommend this enough. And 30-minute episodes makes this first season an easy four-hour commitment. Speaking of fours, I give Atypical a 4 out of 5.

3 Generations

September 10, 2017

Heard some buzz about the film, 3 Generations – a trans coming out story centered around a 16 year-old biological girl who wants to transition to a boy. Starring Elle Fanning as FTM Ray, Naomi Watts as his single mother, and Susan Sarandon as his lesbian grandmother, the casting is certainly strong. There were some obvious choices made in the film which didn’t excite me, but they were balanced with several thoughtful pieces of writing which made the film worth watching especially for anyone looking to explore the trans community through a non-exploitative lens. This isn’t a documentary and there are no trans actors in sight, but what the director and cast do with the material is decent and respectful. 3.5 out of 5 for 3 Generations.

The 20 Best LGBTQ Movies of the 21st Century (Indiewire)

September 5, 2017

From Indiewire,

“Moonlight.” “The Handmaiden.” “Carol.” The last few years have not only brought LGBTQ films and stories further into the mainstream, but queer films have dominated awards seasons and found commercial success. This has been a long time coming: The New Queer Cinema was a major influence on the indie film boom of the ’90s, and set the bar high for the many queer films to follow.

From the list of 20, Reel Charlie favorites include,

Far From Heaven
Pariah
Tarnation
Milk
I Killed My Mother
The Kids Are All Right
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Tangerine
Weekend
Stranger by the Lake
Carol
Moonlight

Click on the film titles above to read Reel Charlie’s reviews.
Read Reel Charlie’s Best Gay Films 2010 – 2015.
See the complete list at Indiewire.

All of These Shows Are Coming to Hulu (NY Times)

September 4, 2017

Love classic television? Interested in trying out Hulu? Then you’ll be happy to read Hulu struck a deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution for over 3,000 episodes of their television catalog. From NY Times,

Get ready to update your Watchlist, because Hulu is about to add a raft of shows to its streaming library. (Included are classics such as:)

The Bob Newhart Show
St. Elsewhere
NYPD Blue
M*A*S*H
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Hill Street Blues

Read the full list of shows at The New York Times.

 


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