Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

The Bureau: Season 1, Episode 1

July 8, 2018

Caught the first episode tonight of the French spy thriller, The Bureau.  It’s really, really good. If you have ever been a fan of Homeland or The Americans or any spy film, you will want to check this out. From Vulture,

When it comes to high-stakes TV spy thrillers, sure, Homeland and The Americans have delivered their share of riveting moments.

But by far the series practicing the best spycraft these days is France’s The Bureau. An intricately plotted show rooted in real-world geopolitical events, it follows agents operating within the DGSE intelligence service, the Gallic version of the CIA. Mathieu Kassovitz (Amélie, Munich) stars as Guillaume “Malotru” Debailly, an undercover agent recalled to Paris after six years in Syria, who can’t quite give up his alias. Suffering from le syndrome du clandestin — post-mission disorder — Guillaume tries to adjust to a quotidian work life supervising agents, and reconnecting with his teenage daughter, Prune. His life becomes more complicated when he discovers Nadia El Mansour, the married professor with whom he was having an affair in Damascus, is in Paris.

Here are four other reasons to check out the show the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics named France’s best TV series tout de suite on subscription service Sundance Now.

I caught The Bureau on DVD from the library. If you don’t have a subscription to Sundance Now, ask your library to order the series. Foreign television does very well in our system. I’m not going to continue watching the series, because for some reason, I’m not connecting with it, but it’s extremely well-done. 3 out of 5.

Read the full article on Vulture.

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Scott & Bailey: Season 3

July 2, 2018

Season 3 turned out to be the most complex and shocking Scott & Bailey so far. Friendships destroyed, difficult relatives, free-fall marriages, difficult cases and a mole among the staff are just some of the challenges facing Janet and Rachel in this twisty eight-episode arc. Really love this show. It’s so easy to watch. Nothing too complicated and yet the quality never falters. 4 out of 5.

Scott & Bailey: Season 2

June 26, 2018

Still loving the British police procedural, Scott & Bailey. Fun to see the genders reversed – the women to be making the decisions, drinking too much, fucking up their relationships, and solving all the crimes. Best parts of Season 2: Janet’s marital problems, Rachel’s brother Dominic, Sean’s reappearance in Rachel’s life, Andy’s reappearance in Janet’s life, Sean’s surprise family member, Andy and Janet’s screw-up at work, Nick Savage’s reappearance, and Rachel’s Mom who helps with the cliffhanger. Kudos to the direction and writing. Tight, smart and easy to digest, Scott & Bailey is perfect for almost any occasion. Breezed through this second season full of surprises and filled with the familiarity of our heroines. 4 out of 5.

Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Enlightened: Season 2 (take 2)

June 23, 2018

Click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s updated review of the colossal whistle-blower television series, Enlightened from the brilliant minds of Mike White and Laura Dern.

Man in an Orange Shirt

June 19, 2018

PBS’ Masterpiece imports another outstanding British production, Man in an Orange Shirt available today on DVD and streaming. The film tells the love stories of two male couples, one post WWII and one in present day England. British novelist Patrick Gale wrote Man in an Orange Shirt. If you haven’t read any Gale, I suggest starting with Rough Music or The Facts of Life. Gale is a master of storytelling in multiple time periods. Man in an Orange Shirt focuses on love, but also exposes the destruction the closet can reap on gay people and their loved ones, particularly their opposite-sexed spouses. Michael and Thomas struggle to hold on to their love in an unforgiving 1940’s England. Michael marries Flora while Thomas faces the law. Michael’s grandson Adam meets Steve as they face modern-day challenges of open relationships and online hook-ups. For both couples, the closet and societal acceptance prove their biggest hurdles. Writing, production values, acting, directing all first-rate. The story is told in two parts starting as the war comes to an end and finishing in present time. Man in an Orange Shirt feels like something I will want to revisit in the very near future. Thrilled these stories are being written and produced for television. Lots of tears with ultimately one happy ending. 4 out of 5 for Man in an Orange Shirt.

Scott & Bailey: Season 1

June 17, 2018

Sally Wainwright’s (Happy Valley) police procedural, Scott & Bailey currently streams five seasons on Amazon Prime. Scott & Bailey provides detective comfort food while boasting a female driven cast and crew. The women on the show screw up just as much as the men but I have to say it’s refreshing seeing a perspective from the girls club this time around. We could use a lot more shows like Scott & Bailey. The series stars Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp in title roles with Amelia Bullmore as their DCI boss. All three women carve out natural and memorable characters. Combining the best of smart police work with short-lived cases and a bit of sexual tension and drama from the women, Scott & Bailey goes down easy and is the perfect Friday night Amazon and chill. 4 out of 5 for this addictive drama.

Love, Simon

June 16, 2018

Ah, a new generation’s coming out film. Only this time the film goes from indy to wide theater release with celebrities renting out movie houses for kids and their parents to see the film. We can and need to enjoy the progress while continuing the fight for full equality for all. The Greg Berlanti adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s gorgeous YA (Young Adult) novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda lives up to the hype. Before you watch, read the book. Newly crowned, Love, Simon, Berlanti’s film captures the simple, every-teen existence of Simon Spier navigating high school and his uncertainty about coming out in his picture postcard life. Simon has an easy life. What he doesn’t understand is why he has to come out and no one else does. Love, Simon becomes accessible by striking a balance between the characters. Yes Simon is white and privileged and male, but his story is universal and his friends are straight and many shades other than white. I realize it can be frustrating seeing yourself only in supporting roles. So I’m not minimizing that issue. I’m simply saying there’s power in telling these coming out stories to a wider audience using images society is comfortable with… cis white males and then absolutely following that up with stories about women, people of color, gender non-conforming, etc. I thought Simon worked on many levels and part of that was the accessibility of this film to straight white America. I live in a town with very little diversity so I understand the importance of visibility. Simon also excels at accessibility because the story stays simple and easy-going. No one gets beat up or threatened. Simon doesn’t lose his family’s love. But there’s still drama and angst which fuels the teen drama in familiar ways. I absolutely enjoyed Love, Simon and understand why it got such love when it was released. It’s out on DVD and streaming. Love, Simon will make you happy we live in a world where progress has been made. There’s still tons of work to do, but it’s nice to be able to take a break and enjoy how far we’ve come. Love, Simon is a tender reminder of the good things the world has to offer LGBT kids today. 4 out of 5.

Enlightened: Season 1 (take 2)

June 15, 2018

In awe of how great Mike White’s Enlightened is the second time around. Must see for anyone who’s ever felt dead inside and lost from our brutal corporate reality. Or for anyone who wants a wake-up call. Or anyone who craves intelligent television. Click on the image to read Reel Charlie’s updated review.

Sense8: The Finale

June 10, 2018

Never have I loved such a flawed show as much as I love Sense8. The plot can be ridiculous, the story lines impossible to follow, the back story baffling, and the violence over the top gross. And yet, in-between lives an arc of love, connection, compassion, and a sense of wonder. Gloriously filmed in Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Nairobi, Reykjavik, San Francisco, and Seoul, this finale movie wrap-up lands in Paris where the sensates gather to do battle with the Chairman and save their race from enslavement and extinction. I forgot much of the plot between Season 2 and the wrap-up movie. I sure wish Netflix and other streamers would create “last season on…” trailers to remind us where we left off in the previous season. Instead I sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride. There’s way too much violence for me, and Daryl Hannah’s face work never stops being distracting. Still Sense8 imagines a world of possibilities for love and friendship. And for that I will end this series content and fulfilled. What’s not to love about a kooky, over-the-top, sex positive TV show that has a HEA ending? My girls found their moment after the battles ended. 4 out of 5 for the ambitious Sense8 from the Wachowskis.

Queer as Folk: Season 5, The Final Season (take >3)

June 9, 2018

I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I moped when it ended. Click on the image below to see my updated review of the classic television series, Queer as Folk: Season 5: The Final Season.


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