Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Ray Donovan

December 13, 2017

I’ve been wanting to try out Ray Donovan for years now. Not sure why I never got around to watching it until this week. I like the cast a lot. I especially love the casting director who decided Liev Schreiber and Eddie Marsan look like brothers, which they do. The dead pan, no-nonsense violence does nothing for me. The idea of a Boston working-class family – this time transplanted to Los Angeles seems worn out to me. I suppose people in other parts might be fascinated by the accents and the thuggishness. Honestly, it makes me yawn. I’ve seen enough Irish Catholic heavy accented Boston working class characters for one lifetime. At least for now. I get why Ray Donovan would be addictive for many. I am simply not connecting with it. It’s not bad, it’s just not my taste. 3 out of 5.

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Godless

December 11, 2017

Watched the first episode of Netflix new western Godless. Nearly all the men in La Belle, New Mexico die in a mining accident. The women are left to keep the town going. An outlaw, Roy Goode hides out in town from his former partner Frank Griffin. So there are men in the series. Many of them. Most are not connected with the town. But there is a great balance of gender in the ensemble cast. Outstanding group of actors including Jack O’Connell (as Roy), Michelle Dockery (yes, Mary from Downton Abbey),  Scoot McNairy, Merritt Wever (doing her usual badass acting), Jeff Daniels, and Sam Waterston. There’s modern humor infused into the story. Godless is authentic, filmed on location in New Mexico with a feminist twist. But it’s still a western which is not my genre of choice. I give it a 3 out of 5. You may find it more to your liking and rate it higher.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1

December 9, 2017

Season 1 of the Amazon Prime exclusive, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel succeeded my wildest expectations after loving the pilot during Amazon’s Pilot season earlier this year. Gilmore Girls creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino work their magic once again, this time in 1950’s New York City. Miriam “Midge” Maisel falls into stand-up comedy after a nasty break-up with her husband. Midge spent her young life being a daughter, wife, and mother. Now she’s back home living with her parents, two kids in tow while she figures out how to make money and how to break into show business. I love, love, love this series. It’s got everything: tight delivery, outstanding cast including Rachel Brosnahan as Midge (a star is born), Alex Borstein as Suzie, Midge’s lesbian manager, Marin Hinkle incredibly cast and nailing her role as Midge’s Mom, Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s dry sense of humor Dad, and Luke Kirby occasionally appearing as Lenny Bruce. The sets, costumes, design – all outstanding. The drama comedy balance perfect. I know I’m ruining it but I can’t help it. I love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Midge teaches us what it means to be a modern woman, figuring out how to break the chains of patriarchy while holding on to the parts of her life that work. The show never knocks you over the head. It teaches through the drama of the every day story. You’ll be hooked on Midge and her journey from the moment you begin. And did I say the series is so much fun? Laugh out loud moments, period songs inserted at just the right moment. 5 out of 5 for the Sherman-Palladino’s new creation. Thank you Amazon.

The Crown: Season 2 drops

December 8, 2017

A reminder the lavish British monarchy series, The Crown drops Season 2 today on Netflix. Looking forward to new cast members Michael C. Hall and Jodi Balfour as Jack and Jackie Kennedy, and Matthew Goode as Lord Snowdon as we careen into the 1960’s. Who’s binging this weekend?

Read Reel Charlie’s review of The Crown: Season 1.
Watch the trailer for The Crown: Season 2 on YouTube.

(BPM) Beats Per Minute (trailer)

December 1, 2017

I couldn’t let World AIDS Day 2017 go by without mentioning the brand-new French film, (BPM) Beats Per Minute. It’s the film I’m most excited about seeing this year.

Indiewire calls it “the Most Authentically Queer Film of the Awards Season.”
France selected it as their entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards this year.
Glenn Kenny at Roger Ebert’s site said, “Even if you consider yourself reasonably well-versed in the history, “BPM” is a kind of wake-up call, a cinematic alarm against complacency.”
Rotten Tomatoes gives Beats Per Minute (BPM) a 98% rating.
Check out BPM’s official site.
Watch the BPM trailer on YouTube. 
BPM screens this Sunday, December 3, 2017 in Hartford, CT, a co-presentation with REAL ART WAYS and Out Film CT.

L.A. Law: Season 3

November 27, 2017

I’m maxed out on L.A. Law seasons here in the States. The Region 1 DVDs only go as far as Season 3 which I just finished. Damn. I guess this is the end of the road for me – for now. I sure wish someone would stream all eight seasons. I know it changed a lot over the years. After Susan Dey left, I stopped watching. But I’d love to see where it goes and if I could stay with it. Meanwhile, Season 3 continued the excellence of the first two seasons. Great stories, Lots of humor. And the women really shine in this series. Very balanced characters gender-wise. Probably a big deal back in the 80’s to execute that. Even the Roxanne character proves not everyone who works for a law firm manages their money or even makes enough in the first place. Mickey and Grace are on the rocks, Ann and Stuart try to make a baby, Abby ventures out on her own, Jonathan finds his footing, and Victor continues to work strong. Season 3 truly features the classic cast. Still holds up after more than 30 years. 5 out of 5 for this television legal drama that not only paved the way for many other shows like it, but inspired many people to become lawyers.

Mudbound

November 24, 2017

Director Dee Rees’ (Bessie, Pariah) Netflix original film, Mudbound explores the dark and violent side of race relations in post-WWII America. Based on Hillary Jordan’s novel, Mudbound tells the story of two young men, one African-American and one Caucasian who return from Europe after fighting in WWII only to be suppressed and constricted in the small mindedness of Alabama during the late 1940’s. Incredible ensemble cast featuring Jason Mitchell, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks, Rob Morgan, Jason Clarke, and Carey Mulligan. Mudbound certainly is not an easy film to watch. But it’s essential. There is a tenderness between the two returning soldiers as they share PTSD and liquor that’s rarely seen between two straight male characters in American film. That tenderness only makes them more vulnerable to the hatred of the locals who don’t understand what these heroes need in order to live the rest of their lives healthy and happy. Mudbound assaults you with prejudice and racial violence. It also reminds you that people who leave and return for any reason, usually come back more evolved and enlightened. So there is hope for humanity subtle and deep. Director Rees created a classic work with Pariah. Mudbound feels like she’s on her way to a long and intelligent career. 4 out of 5.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

November 23, 2017

I certainly have many things to be thankful for this year – great friends, an amazing family, a supportive and loving non-partner/partner (my bex, Dennis), a fantastic job in a career that helps the disenfranchised and people at risk, wonderful co-workers, a healthy body that responds to exercise, doctors and medical staff who keep me humming after all these post AIDS crisis years, and a brand-new 7 year-old puppy girl who will come live with us on Saturday.

But this year has not been without struggle. Now more than ever it’s important I keep myself glass half full. There is so much to do if we are to make this country and our world a reflection of decency, kindness, love and inclusion.

Today is U.S. Thanksgiving. Many of you will be home with family and friends. I wish you a calm, happy, foodie day. And afterwards, if you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving movie, consider What’s Cooking. It’s very American and very ethnic. Which is very American. Now more than ever.

Read Reel Charlie’s review of the perfect Thanksgiving film: What’s Cooking.
What’s Cooking is currently streaming on Amazon with a Tribeca Shortlist subscription. Or rent it digitally for $3 from Amazon, Apple, or Vudu. Or get the DVD from Netflix or your library.

The Way, Way Back

November 13, 2017

Not sure why I never initially reviewed the delightful and poignant The Way, Way Back when I first saw it. Watching it a second time sealed my enjoyment for this beautiful indie film. Starring Liam James as Duncan, the awkward 14 year-old whose mother drags him along to a summer beach house with her pushy boyfriend and his annoyed-at-life daughter. Duncan obviously has trouble fitting in until he finds an unlikely friend in Owen, manager of the local water park. Duncan sneaks off to work at the park resulting in finding his voice to speak out to his mother, her boyfriend, and begin finding his way in the world. Truly remarkable cast including Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, and Allison Janney who steals every scene she’s in. She must have had a blast playing this role. The Way, Way Back is a feel-good movie with heart and intelligence. 4 out of 5.

Honeydripper

November 12, 2017

Now that I’ve presented three of my favorite John Sayles’ films in a series for the library, I wanted to discover some of his films I’ve yet to watch. First up: Honeydripper. The action of Sayles’ 2007 creation takes place in 1950 Alabama centered on a fledgling blues club for African-Americans. All the familiar Sayles’ ingredients are present: a large, interconnected ensemble cast, social issues, and attention to script detail. Honeydripper also includes a story firmly rooted in the past. And a kick-ass musical score. This is an easy film to watch laced with everyday people trying to figure out how to survive and find some happiness along the way. 4 out of 5 for Honeydripper.


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