Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Women Talking

March 23, 2023

Damn Sarah Polley wrote and directed Women Talking, a searing indictment of male and female relationships and the horror of the patriarchy. The story revolves around a religious sect. Does the action take place in the 1960’s or in the 2010’s? That confusion at least for me was on purpose. The timelessness of the piece allows you to focus on how this film reflects our own culture today? How do we as a society treat the 50.5% of the population who are female? What is the power dynamic that continues to prevail in our culture, and can women alone affect lasting change? We are living these questions out right now in real time as states strip reproductive rights from women and offer no options to unwanted pregnancies. Women are still mostly expected to raise children and give up careers. Women are expected to make less money, and do more if they do work outside the home. It’s a difficult tightrope walk that’s been going on for centuries. Women Talking addresses all of this and more. There’s only one male character in the film and he’s gentle and burdened with his own issues. All the other characters represent the spectrum of reaction to the patriarchal rule of this sect. It’s a microcosm of what’s going on today. Every day. The story is deeply disturbing. The film written and directed by Polley is luminous, full of quiet beauty. The drawings throughout the film are particularly worth noting. An easy 5 out of 5. A must-see.

Women Talking is currently available for a rental free from various streaming platforms and free on disk from your local public library.

Succession: Getting Ready for the Final Season

March 17, 2023

I watched the final two episodes of Succession: Season 3 in anticipation of the Season 4 premiere , the final season beginning on March 26, 2023. Aside from my awe-struck fan love for the script, acting, editing, sets, locations, and wardrobe, I really caught the taste of how much patriarch Logan Roy has raised a pack of wild animals. All four children possess some form of insanity. Still there are moments to love each of them. Logan not so much. Peripheral characters add a delicious density to the performances. In particular I love the actors Hiam Abbass, Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, J. Smith-Cameron, Justine Lupe, and Alexander Skarsgård perfectly playing an aloof, asshole tech giant. There’s still time to catch up. Can’t wait for the final season. 4 out of 5.

Succession currently streams on HBO Max.

Storm of the Century

March 9, 2023

In 1999, Stephen King wrote the screenplay for the TV movie, Storm of the Century. A little island off the coast of Maine (surprise) prepares for the worst snowstorm in over 100 years. As the storm rages in, a stranger comes to town and people start dying mysteriously. Soon enough the stranger identifies himself and gets put into a jail cell for the duration of the storm. Supernatural elements appear and the familiar King story unfolds of a small town of regular folk facing extraordinary circumstances which may or may not be human in origin. That’s all I’m going to say. This is classic pre-streaming TV movie fare. Lots of fun. Cheesy throughout, silly, but pulls you in. King himself called Storm of the Century his favorite television production. Cast includes Tim Daly, Debrah Farentino, Colm Feore, Casey Siemasko, Jeffrey DeMunn, a very young Julianne Nicholson, and Peter MacNeil (Horvath on Queer as Folk)

Storm of the Century currently streams on Hulu.

Somebody Somewhere: Season 1 (take 2)

February 17, 2023

Second time around watching this pitch perfect series. Bridgett Everett and crew create a beautiful small town lost soul experience. So much connection and so much precision. Click here or on the image for the full review.


Welcome to Chippendales

January 21, 2023

What started out as a romp, ended up pretty lackluster. Welcome to Chippendales is a limited series on Hulu which follows the real life story of founder and owner Steve Banerjee who gets greedy and doesn’t want to share any of his fortune with others who work hard to create the Chippendales brand. That specifically includes choreographer Nick De Noia. The two characters are played by Kumail Nanjiani and Murray Bartlett. Both men bring a lot of experience to the roles. They tried, but in the end, the story unravels into a melodramatic mess. The showrunners really should have scrapped the desire to create a heavy drama and leaned in more to the camp fest Chippendales truly is. Featured actors Juliette Lewis, Andrew Rannells, Robin de Jesus and Annaleigh Ashford try hard, but also fall short. This felt more like a 1970s TV movie of the week than a high end streaming limited series from 2023. 2 out of 5. Next.

Welcome to Chippendales currently stream on Hulu.
Despite all the murder and mayhem, Chippendales is still going strong in Las Vegas.

Mare of Easttown (take 2)

January 17, 2023

Wonderful crashing once again through small town Pennsylvania and a murder mystery with Kate Winslet and Jean Smart. Click here or on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s updated review.

Mare of Easttown currently streams on HBO Max.

Best of Reel Charlie 2022

December 31, 2022

Before we enter the hopeful year of 2023, read on for Reel Charlie’s favorites in books, music, podcasts, film, and television from 2022.

Books (links to Goodreads)

Another great year of reading thanks as always to Goodreads for keeping me focused, my colleagues at work for keeping me open, and my Kindle Paperwhite for making it fun to obsess over books. I also want to give a shout out to audiobooks (hoopla, Libby free with your library card) which have helped me read/listen to so many more books throughout the year. I read 51 books this year. These are my favorites:

Apparently There Were Complaints: A Memoir by Sharon Gless – she’s amazing.
A Do-Si-Do With Death (Stan Kraychik Mystery #7) by Grant Michaels – a new book from a beloved series.
Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries, #2) and Heat Wave (The Extraordinaries, #3) by T.J. Klune – amazing YA superhero snark.
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott – fascinating.
The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish – love love love this queer holiday rom-com home swap.
Knock Off The Hat (Clifford Waterman Gay Philly Mystery #1) by Richard Stevenson – saying goodbye is never easy. RIP Richard.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo – yes yes yes this is lesbian historicial YA brilliance.
Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen – wonderful queer historical mystery.
Legacy in the Blood (Chiara Corelli Mystery #4) by Catherine Maiorisi – need to go back and start this series.
The Measure by Nikki Erlick – my favorite big release.
continued with A Nick Williams Mystery by Frank W. Butterfield. In 2022 read books 8 & 9. Only 22 left to go in this 31 book series. Nick and Carter are my fantasy everything from my parents’ generation.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune – favorite book of the year.
Unprotected by Billy Porter – this man is amazing.


Regular readers to Reel Charlie know that I am not engulfing new music like my younger, or more daring counterparts. That said this year I listened with glee to:

Top Genres
New Wave Pop
Dance Pop
Adult Standards

Top Artists
Will Young
Olivia Newton-John (RIP)
Bette Midler
Kylie Minogue
Saint Etienne
Jessie Ware
Diana Krall
Idina Menzel
George Michael
The Ones

Also, a new anthem: Lizzo’s About Damn Time.

Movies & Television (links to Reel Charlie reviews)

This year I have wondered if my viewing has shifted to a more comfort zone reality. In other words, am I watching more things that soothe me, or mildly entertain me as opposed to watching programs that challenge and inform me? Let’s look a little closer at the lists below for an answer.

Here are Reel Charlie’s favorite films and series from 2022:

Documentaries (including podcasts and stand-up):

The Andy Warhol Diaries – delighted by this doc series focusing on Warhol’s romantic relationships.
Rothaniel – amazing tell-all stand-up.
Sound Barrier: Sylvester – incredible podcast on colossal talent Sylvester.
The Standups: Season 3 – where I first saw Janelle James (Abbott Elementary).
Visible: Out on Televisionoutstanding docuseries covers LGBTQ+ life from the 50’s to present.


Bros – couldn’t believe, LOVED and own this on Blu-ray.
Coda – one of the best Hollywood films of the year.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – I am a Downtonite, and yes I adored this.
Everything Everywhere All at Once – my favorite Hollywood film of the year and own it on 4K.
Fire Island – LOVE, great indy film, funny and poignant.
Flee – animated non-fiction film about one gay man’s quest for a safe life.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande – so wonderful, older women rule.
Red Rocket – another indie gem, this time about a porn actor coming home.
State of the Union – saw this one for the first time, more Tracy/Hepburn magic.
Written on the Wind – saw this for the first time as well. Sirk magic.

Television (including limited series):

And Just Like That: Season 1more Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte.
All Creatures Great and Small
: Season 2 – more warmth and critter love.
Around the World in 80 Days: Season 1 loved this so much more than I expected.
As We See It: Season 1 outstanding, authentic lives of Gen Z on the spectrum.
Better Call Saul: Season 5outstanding, despicable can’t stop.
Better Call Saul: Season 6 (series finale) – bye Jimmy and Kim. Nacho forever.
Borgen: Power & Glory – one of the best of the year. Birgitte rules.
The Crown: Season 5 – quiet, reflective.
Feud: Bette and Joan– finally streamed, amazing.
Five Days at Memorial – amazing series about a NOLA hospital after Katrina.
The Great British Baking Show: Collection 10 – my joy, my love.
Julia: Season 1 – another surprise I wasn’t expecting to love.
A League of Their Own: Season 1 – outstanding one of the best of the year.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 4 – continuing Midge’s saga.
Only Murders in the Building: Season 2 – loved this season better than the first.
Ozark: Season 4, Part 1 – heavy, heavy…
Ozark: Season 4, Part 2 (series finale) – goodbye Wendy and Marty.
Russian Doll: Season 2 – wacked out even more than the first season.
Somebody Somewhere: Season 1 – wow I really loved this one.
Sort Of: Season 1 – a new voice and room at the table. Sabi rules.
Sort Of: Season 2 – full of angst and growing pains. Sabi grows.
We Own the City – more David Simon magic.
Wisting: Season 2 – outstanding Nordic noir.
Wisting: Season 3 – Maggie’s back.
Work in Progress: Season 2 – heavy and rewarding.

Take Two (watching beloved film and television again):

The Crown: Season 4 – the introduction of Diana.
Don’t Look Up – better the second time.
Downton Abbey: A New Era – a thousand times yes!
Downton Abbey: The Movie (the first movie) – see above.
The Guilded Age: Season 1 – so much better the second time around.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries: Murder Under the Mistletoe – my drag name would be Phryne.
Rock Hudson’s Home Movies – outstanding indie doc from 30 years ago.
Shadow of a Doubt (4K) – possibly my favorite Hitchcock, definitely his.
Single All the Way – a new classic holiday treat.

Special Posts from 2022:

Reel Charlie Speaks Podcast
One Book One Town (Fairfield, CT) Announcement: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
We Are All Golden Girls
GLAAD’S 2021-2022 Where We Are on TV Report: LGBTQ Representation Reaches New Record Highs
TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea: a place in LGBTQ Literature
Queer Writers of Crime Book Recommendation #1
Author TJ Klune: In Conversation
Reel Charlie celebrates 13 Years!
It’s A Lot Like Falling in Love: Legacies of Naiad Press and the Tallahassee Lesbian Community (Naiad Press)
Leslie Jordan: 1955 – 2022


What were your favorites in 2022? Thank you for continuing this journey with me. I love reviewing film and television on Reel Charlie. Onward 2023, another year of incredible film, television, music, podcasts, and reading!

Six Feet Under Christmas Episode (Season 2, Episode 8)

December 27, 2022

Brenda’s mother Margaret and brother Billy spend some time together during the holidays on Six Feet Under.

It’s just not the holiday season without a trip down memory lane with some of my favorite television series’ Christmas episodes. This year I watched Six Feet Under‘s single contribution, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Season 2, Episode 8 aired Apr 21, 2002). It’s been a year since Nathaniel’s death. Each of the Fishers remember the last time they spoke to him as David and Nate hold a biker funeral on Christmas Day and Ruth tries to make her version of a perfect Christmas dinner. Another sublime episode from my favorite series of all-time.

Six Feet Under currently streams on HBO Max.

Sort Of: Season 2

December 23, 2022

Sabi’s back for another season of growing pains – the Toronto non-binary Pakistani-Canadian nanny/bartender who craves deeper connections with all the people they love. Sort Of follows Sabi’s often awkward journey searching for meaning, love, and their place in the world around them. I had trouble with this season because of all the awkwardness, the affection towards inappropriate people, the social malaise. It was hard for me to take in spots. But as I eased into the season, I realized we all experience moments or lifetimes of these emotions and to insert them into a complex, intelligent 20-minute television series in-between the quiet is ridiculously brilliant Also, Sabi’s sister acts as a reflection of Sabi’s remnants of male privilege which shatter during a cemetery moment where they finally shed any final embodiment of cis male. Profound and humbling to watch. Bessy and Paul continue to be a total mess. The kids are so much more mature than the parents, a true slice of modern day parenting life. 7ven who was my favorite character in Season 1 annoyed the shit out of me in Season 2. I kept wanting her to grow up whatever that means. The show certainly made me laugh in places, but what it truly did was challenge my notions of what it means to move, live, and create in this modern world when you don’t fit in. Another beautiful season of Sort Of. So happy this show exists in 2022. 5 out of 5.

Better Call Saul: Season 6 (series finale)

December 15, 2022

I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I binged an entire season in one weekend: Friday – Sunday. Better Call Saul‘s final season’s packed with present day, back story, and future story. All the complicated worlds come crashing in on each other in this pivotal final season, including finally, solidly linking the series with Breaking Bad which I started watching ten years ago! Like it’s parent show, Saul’s full of corruption and violence. But unlike Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul comes from an initial place of bad. Saul/Jimmy’s not broken or damaged, or in trouble. He’s just bad. He’s corrupt. He’s amoral and takes amusement in and advantage of other’s misfortune. The scripts have always been intellectual and complicated, the acting top notch. It’s not a story I would necessarily pick up in a book to read, but the creators, cast, and crew bring it to life in a way that makes you, or at least made me want to watch. This final season pulls it all together. And it’s not just Saul’s story. Kim’s intricately standing right there next to Saul. Her own story just as important to understand the entirety of what has made this series work and what makes us come back for more each season. Yes, there’s uber-violence. But like other outstanding shows from this genre, it’s the professionalism and intelligence that keeps me coming back. No different this season. I was lost many times, but it didn’t matter. I knew Vince Gilligan and company would bring me back and they did. Every time. 4 out of 5 for the season. Series rating: 4.25.

Spoiler alert: Bad guys beware: Carol Burnett’s going to take you down. Genius.

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