Archive for the ‘Drugs/Alcohol’ Category

CB Strike

March 1, 2023

J.K. Rowling writes a series of adult mystery novels under the pen name Robert Galbraith. I read the first one. It was ok. Rowling told more than she showed. I never went on to read the other books. Recently I discovered there is a television series based on the books named CB Strike which is the name of the private investigator – Cormoran Strike who solves the cases. I tried watching and nearly made it through the first two episodes from the first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. Ultimately it felt flat to me. Not surprising. And why does every damaged investigator/cop have to drink? Not very creative. 2 out of 5. Next.

CB Strike currently streams on Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube premium.

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.

The White Lotus: Season 2

December 13, 2022

After Season 1 of The White Lotus crashed and burned for me – I really hated the season finale. There was a scene that was so gross, I couldn’t shake it and vowed to not watch the show again. But I got pulled into the second season. New locale, new characters – except for Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya, and of course more annoying, clueless rich people, mostly white – demanding their perks wherever they go. It’s a car crash. You don’t know who’s worse. The newly rich couple, the longer term rich couple, the 3 generations of Italian-American men, the clueless older rich woman, her assistant, her husband, her new gay friends. It’s a disaster waiting to happen around every corner, every episode. The staff play a prominent role like last season, there are escorts who are making money, the woman from multiple men. The man from one man who might be scamming the clueless rich woman. It’s a crazy, crazy show. The finale was over the top, but not gross, so I was relieved. Without giving too much away, the gays get to be evil. I know we’re still evil to the far right and the evangelicals. But to the Hollywood left, it’s fun to play with that old trope and turn it on its head. A much more fun season overall. 3.5 out of 5.

American Horror Story: NYC (Season 11)

November 19, 2022

Spoiler alert: The good news is after eleven seasons, Ryan Murphy and crew produced an American Horror Story focused on gay men. The action happens in 1981 NYC as a mysterious illness begins circulating throughout the gay male community. There’s also a serial killer (maybe two) on the loose targeting gay men. Once the first killer is captured, I realized the second killer is not a killer, he’s the grim reaper. And he’s a giant bodybuilder in full leather. There lots of in-your-face gay content which Murphy’s become known for and I’m grateful for his matter-of-fact inclusion. As much as I like having some details kept amongst ourselves, I realize that’s very old school of me. What Murphy’s doing is showing gay, queer, LGBTQ culture in all of its forms which make the affection and love on the screen completely normal to most folks. Especially important as we continue to fight for equal rights around the country and the globe. Great cast including Russell Tovey, Joe Mantello, Billie Lourd, Denis O’Hare, Charlie Carver, Leslie Grossman, Sandra Bernhard, Isaac Powell, Zachary Quinto, Patti LuPone, Jeff Hiller, Rebecca Dayan, Matthew William Bishop, Kal Pennm and Casey Thomas Brown. Lots of heavy hitters, so the acting is first rate until the scripts went campy and silly in places. The final two episodes transitioned from serial killer as a metaphor for AIDS – to AIDS as a reality. Unfortunately, the lengthy montage felt too heavy handed. And I didn’t realize Joe Mantello’s character would morph into Larry Kramer. I wasn’t feeling that. I am not a fan of blood and gore, but I thought within the genre, they did a great job creating a period horror show using metaphor for the burgeoning AIDS crisis, and as I said, actual AIDS by the end of the season. Overall the season was uneven. But I do like a show that takes risks and they certainly did with AHS: NYC. Definitely a 3.5 or 4 in places, but overall a good even 3 out of 5.

American Horror Story currently streams on FX and Hulu.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

October 3, 2022

I have no idea why I scared myself watching Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The first night I finished two episodes and thought I heard someone outside of the house as I was getting ready for bed. Ryan Murphy’s production company created this limited series starring American Horror Story alum, Evan Peters who chillingly and remarkably plays Dahmer to the core. Also in the cast are Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) as Dahmer’s father and Molly Ringwald as Dahmer’s step-mother. Jenkins is his usual magic to watch and he gets a number of moments in the series. Ringwald’s role is limited and supporting at best. It is Niecy Nash who aside from Peters, steals the show in every scene she is in as Dahmer’s terrified neighbor, Glenda Cleveland. This stuff is so much spookier because it actually happened. Chilling. Not for the faint of heart, but there are many outstanding scenes aside from the obvious gross out parts of Dahmer’s lust for blood and death. I had no idea Dahmer mainly targeted men of color. 17 young men had their lives cut short because of Dahmer’s murders. Sick. 4 out of 5 for the limited series. Though I doubt I will ever watch it again.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story currently streams on Netflix.

I can’t get the KC and the Sunshine Band song, Please Don’t Go out of my mind. It’s featured prominently in the film as are other 70’s and 80’s music. Shiver.

Feud: Bette and Joan

July 27, 2022

I’ve been waiting five years to watch the Ryan Murphy limited series, Feud about the relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Somehow the series got lost after it premiered on FX in 2017. I’ve been impatient ever since and finally Hulu picked it up. Jessica Lange disappears into Joan Crawford. I forgot what a great actress Susan Sarrandon is after her political meltdowns over the past few years. The two of them together are a tour de force of talent and emotion. Feud is the best combination of feel-good fun and outstanding acting. The rest of the cast also blew me away including:

Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland
Alfred Molina as Robert Aldrich
Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner
Kiernan Shipka as B. D. Merrill
Jackie Hoffman stealing every scene she’s in as Mamacita
Dominic Burgess as Victor Buono
Sarah Paulson all too briefly as Geraldine Page
Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell
John Rubinstein as George Cukor
John Waters as William Castle
Cameron Dye as Don Bachardy

So many nods to gay men with Victor Buono and his crazy opening lines to Bette Davis, John Rubenstein as George Cukor, and Cameron Dye as Christopher Isherwood’s long term partner Don Bachardy who sketches Bette’s portrait towards the end of the series.

Feud packs a lot into each episode. Keep your phone handy to look up actors or directors you sort of know but need more background on. Jessica and Susan carry the show gorgeously. There’s not a weak note in the ten episodes. Murphy’s really got an eye and a pen for writing these incredible historical pieces on Old Hollywood. And think about it. The premise of much of the series revolves around Bette and Joan being in their mid to late 50’s and not being able to find decent work. Today Murphy hires all sorts of older female actresses proving that the prime of one’s life can be anytime, not just youth. Can’t get enough of the drama, the inside look, the glamour, the pain, and the triumph of Feud. 4.5 out of 5.

Feud: Bette and Joan currently streams on Hulu.

We Own The City

June 5, 2022

David Simon and Ed Burns, the team behind The Wire, one of my all-time favorite series collaborate once again. Yes, it’s Baltimore. Yes, it’s got a lot of Wire alum. Yes, it’s about police and the continuing epic fail of the war on drugs. This new limited series based on Justin Fenton’s book, We Own The City stands completely on its own. The six-part series focuses on the true story of the disastrous short reign of the Baltimore Police’s Gun Trace Task Force. Officers were stealing cash, drugs and more. The series centers on Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, one of eight officers who were convicted on various corruption charges in 2018 and 2019. Great cast including Jon Bernthal as Jenkins, Wunmi Mosaku who quietly steals every scene she’s in, Jamie Hector (Wire alum), Josh Charles, McKinley Belcher III, Darrell Britt-Gibson, and Rob Brown. Big-time fans of The Wire will want to put this on their to-watch list immediately. The rest of the viewers owe it to yourselves to watch this outstanding limited series. The Wire focused on five different aspects of failed city systems over five seasons. We Own The City laser focuses on one specific department in the Baltimore Police Department and their massive corruption. And it’s all true! 5 out of 5 for another Simon series.

We Own the City currently streams on HBOMax.
The Wire turned 20 this year and continues streaming on HBOMax. It’s also incredible viewing on Blu-ray.

Ozark: Season 4, Part 2 (final season)

May 7, 2022

Ozark: the end. Not sure where to begin. Perhaps the fact that this binge-loving television watcher could only inhale one episode a day of this intense series says something. It says a lot actually. I have loved Ozark throughout its run. Yes, it’s uber-violent. Yes, it’s depressing. Yes, with that violence comes the reality of constantly saying goodbye to characters. All that balances out with outstanding writing, directing, and acting. Ozark‘s atmospheric, lush, beautiful, and full of surprises. It’s been a journey with Wendy and Marty. Well journey may not exactly be the right word. Maybe car crash would be a better description. They’ve left a trail of chaos and death in their dust as they sunk deeper and deeper into a life of crime. Ozark continues to be a stark metaphor for the greed and lawlessness of our time. It is the perfect companion to this era. The second half of the final season of Ozark left a bloody pile of bodies as we all wondered who would survive? Is it even possible for Marty and Wendy to survive? Many thanks to creators Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams. And of course Ozark would not be Ozark without the stellar cast including Jason Bateman, Laura Linney (Mary Ann Singleton transformed forever), Skylar Gaertner, Julia Garner, Sofia Hublitz, Felix Solis, Richard Thomas (yes, that Richard Thomas), and Veronica Falcón. An outstanding end to to an amazing run. Dark Shadows gave me nightmares as a kid. Ozark gave me nightmares as an adult. 5 out of 5. Shiver.

Ozark currently streams on Netflix.

Reel Charlie ratings:
Ozark: Season 1: 4/5
Ozark: Season 2: 4/5
Ozark: Season 3: 4/5
Ozark: Season 4,1: 5/5
Ozark: Season 4.2: 5/5
Overall Ozark score: 4.4

Russian Doll: Season 2

May 5, 2022

Spoiler Alert: Natasha Lyonne’s insanely creative television show, Russian Doll came back for a second season. I wasn’t prepared for the severe right turn the story takes. But I should have known that would happen. The first season proved to be one of the most creative television shows in recent history. The loop, the death, the discovery Lyonne’s character is not alone, and the quest to figure out how to get them out of the loop all proved to be scintillating television. The fact that so much of the show was filmed in the East Village, specifically on Avenue A near Tompkins Square Park was just a huge glob of icing on the cake. So Season 2 began and WTF? It’s no longer about death, it’s now about time travel. And it specifically seems to be about Lyonne’s Nadia and Charlie Barnett’s Alan figuring out how to help their relatives in the strangest of ways right some major wrongs. And Alan’s even got a bi/pan thing going on with a German man in the past. Except maybe it’s technically not really bi/pan since Charlie’s really… oh hell, I’m not spoiling that part. This time, the science fiction aspect of the story barrels into time travel in the most NYC way – through the subway system. Our favorite band of secondary characters are back including the phenomenal Elizabeth Ashley and Greta Lee who should literally have her own series yesterday. Yes, it took me a while to get in the groove, but once I let go, the story captivated me with so much suspense and even more questions. I made it through one complete viewing. The complexity of the writing – including a number of historical markers – and the complexity of the stories makes for sophisticated watching. I live for these kinds of shows. As the tagline says, “all aboard the crazy train.” Indeed. 5 out of 5 for Season 2 of Russian Doll. I can’t wait to go back and watch it again.

Russian Doll currently streams on Netflix.

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