Archive for the ‘Drugs/Alcohol’ Category

The Fosters: Season 5

October 19, 2017

The Fosters keeps getting better. Hard to believe the kids are so grown up after only five years. Stef and Lena continue to navigate parenting with a home full of teenagers. Each child has their own life, friends, loves, hopes, dreams. Side stories with the legal parents, birth parents, foster parents. It can seem like a lot, but it’s life and love and creators Peter Paige and Bradley Bredeweg do such a great job. I look forward to a new season each year. 4 out of 5 for this heartwarming family drama from Free Form.


Dying to Know

September 18, 2017

Ram Dass and Timothy Leary spent several decades in and around each other during careers in academia, experimenting with and legitimately researching psychedelic drugs and alternative ways of living, going their separate ways to find other avenues of enlightenment and growth and finally coming together again as Leary neared the end of his life. Dying to Know chronicles the friendship of these two men – Leary a straight man with a string of marriages and difficulty finding intimacy with women and Dass, a gay man who spent his life in search of teachers and enlightenment while teetering on the edge of the closet. For anyone who doesn’t know their story or for someone like me who read Be Here Now a long time ago and forgot I made index card notes from my reading, there is lots to learn from this straight-forward documentary. 3.5 out of 5 for the journey of Leary and Dass.


September 3, 2017

So disappointed I didn’t love Netflix’s Disjointed. Love Kathy Bates. And a show about a pot dispensary in California is certainly ripe for the present moment. Too bad the creators relied too much on dull traditional network sit-com formulas – audience laugh amplified, one-dimensional characters. They even stole several ideas from Grace and Frankie – Lily Tomlin’s hair extensions for Kathy Bates character, worn out pot jokes, aging hippie women, and a dorky African-American son. Too bad. Like I said the premise felt fresh. In the end, we were left with seeds and stems. Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’ve been waiting years to use that line. 2 out of 5 for Disjointed. Next.

A Star is Born (1976)

August 30, 2017

I wanted to revisit Barbra Streisand’s 1976 remake of A Star in Born in anticipation of the new Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper incarnation coming in 2018. I worshiped Streisand’s film when I was a kid. I owned the soundtrack and memorized every line to every song. I don’t believe I’ve watched it since. Conversations with my friend Nina who also spent time obsessed with the film reminded me how much I loved it back in the day. I’m happy to report the film holds up beautifully after all these decades. Kris Kristofferson plays the perfect love interest for Babs. He’s jaded, edgy, and bad boy to her good girl dorkiness. Did you know Joan Dideon got a screenplay credit along with Frank Pierson (director) and John Gregory Dunne? Also of note, Streisand wore her own clothing as Esther. And many of the stage outfits were men’s suits giving a  feminist vibe to her character. Perhaps the best part of the film is the concert footage which was not only filmed live, but recorded live. Only Streisand would attempt and succeed at something so daunting. Really gives the audience an authentic feel as if you’re there live with the performers. And sure beats the auto-tuned, overly edited world we live in today. For a glimpse of 70’s Streisand perfection, check out A Star is Born. 5 out of 5.

Catch Reel Charlie’s review of A Star is Born 1954 version with Judy Garland.
Enjoy Streisand’s The Woman in the Moon – the pivotal point in the film where Babs’ Esther Hoffman becomes a star.

The Night Of

August 25, 2017

Another great HBO limited series that deserves and looks as if it’s been set-up for a potential Season 2. The Night Of follows a college-aged Pakistani-American young man living in Queens played by the dreamy Brit Riz Ahmed through the thrills of a night out in Manhattan. As police procedurals tend to do, the night doesn’t go exactly as planned. Arrests happen. Jail time, a trial. I’m certainly not giving much away. John Turturro stars along with Ahmed in a gripping, by the book eight-part series. Really enjoyed this and hope there might be a second season. 4 out of 5 for The Night Of.

Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party

August 24, 2017

What I thought might be a sweet YA indie film about a young Christian gay man coming out, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party turned into a much more complicated and satisfying look at suppression and desire in an ensemble of adults and teenagers. Henry Gamble turns 17. During the course of his birthday party young adults and their parents grapple with the confines of their lives – in particular their religious faith while examining their desire for love, happiness, and personal truth. A real surprise. I’m glad I finally gave Henry a shot. 3.5 out of 5.


August 1, 2017

Laura Linney and Jason Bateman star as married couple Wendy and Marty Byrd in Netflix’s new creepy crime drama, Ozark. There’s now a solid sub-genre of crime drama where an otherwise ordinary person or family gets involved in high crime. I’m not talking white-collar crime. I’m talking kill people and dissolve them in acid crime. Ozark definitely follows this trend as a child of Breaking Bad. And that’s not a bad thing. Especially when the acting is top-notch and the location shoot is beautifully eerie. There are of course the many plot thrusters which have to be ignored, such as people not hearing gun shots from close range, police not being called when someone destroys a hotel room, or FBI agents drinking on the job. But if you can suspend your belief for an hour at a time, you’ll be rewarded with a scary and exciting first season of life in rural Midwest. Yes, there’s a few scenes that are disgusting. But it’s fun and worth the watch if you can stand the violence. 4 out of 5.

The Wire on Blu-ray

July 27, 2017

Watched the first episode of The Wire on Blu-ray this weekend and I have to say the picture quality is outstanding. Well worth the investment. Or a simple loan from your local library.

Did you know you can access reviews of Blu-ray releases that rate video, audio and extras qualities to help you determine if it’s worth owning? Many remastered Blu-rays really change the way you see and hear a film or series. And with 4K right around the corner, our viewing pleasure keeps getting better and better.

Read all about The Wire on Blu-ray.

The Brother from Another Planet

July 23, 2017

John Sayles’ 1984 indie film The Brother from Another Planet blends the best elements of several genres using a science fiction overlay to tell the story of race, class, and immigration and the many ways these issues frighten the dominant culture. With now historic outdoor scenes of Harlem in the early 80’s along with many trips on the A train north to 125th Street, New York City becomes synonymous with the issues of the time. Location shooting on the streets, in crowded tenements, in dreary offices, and a neighborhood bar set the ambiance of this classic indie film. Sayles’ long-term life and work partner Maggie Renzi produced and has a small role in the film as one of the office workers. Sayles wrote, directed, and edited his fourth film using funds he received from a 1983 MacArthur Fellows award. He even has a role along with one of his regular actors David Strathairn as they play the men in black seeking the alien who escaped from his imprisoned planet. Other John Sayles’ regulars include Joe Morton in the title role playing the alien who never utters a word, Bill Cobbs as a reminiscing bar patron, and Tom Wright as another frustrated office worker. The Brother from Another Planet stands out as a snapshot of the early 80’s and an excellent example of the creativity indie films can produce. 4 out of 5.

Orange is the New Black: Season 5

June 15, 2017

Damn ladies. Orange is the New Black just keeps getting better and better. How is that even possible? Every season builds on the previous. Not a misstep in this season. Absolute amazing acting, directing, editing, and writing. Highlights include,

Natasha Lyonne as Nicky getting clean and reaching out
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne falling apart again and again (another Emmy?)
Danielle Brooks as Taystee negotiating the deal of the century
Taylor Schilling as Piper realizing her fate and future
Lea DeLaria as Boo proving butch girls look good doing romance
Jackie Cruz and Diane Guerrero as Flaca & Maritza proving the ridiculousness of our instant fame culture
Selenis Leyva as Gloria delivering a powerhouse performance and becoming my favorite character for S5
Taryn Manning as Tiffany (Pennsyltucky) navigating the complicated waters of rape culture, forgiveness, and desire
Adrienne Moore as Black Cindy full of comfort and relief in the final episode
Yael Stone as Lorna crazy as ever
Kate Mulgrew as Red full of revenge
Laura Prepon as Alex filled with PTSD and remorse  and just wanting to stay free (of drama and violence)
Kimiko Glenn as Brook walking the long road of grief
Brad William Henke as Piscatella leading with misdirected spite and evil in the face of homophobia
Elizabeth Rodriguez as Aleida figuring out how to be free
Dascha Polanco as Dayanara facing her consequences

I’m sure I missed someone. What a roller coaster ride this season was and what a cliff hanger. All bets are off that everyone will survive the final moments of the raid. It’s Netflix after all. Unbelievable. Thank you Jenji Kohan and crew for this gift. 5 out of 5.

%d bloggers like this: