Archive for the ‘Drugs/Alcohol’ Category

The Deuce: Season 1

February 28, 2018

David Simon‘s (The Wire, Treme) new HBO series, The Deuce released on disk this past week. Simon’s series offers a gritty, heady, intelligent look at NYC’s sex trade during the birth of the porn industry. The Deuce starts out quietly. The huge signature ensemble cast features street hookers, pimps, police, bar owners, college students, journalists, and young gay men all discovering their lives weaving in and around the sex industry of the early 1970’s. Simon takes his time showing us the changing landscape of business and pleasure in one of the world’s most outrageous neighborhoods. Costuming, props, set design, hair and make-up are all so spot-on, you’d swear you were thrust back in time to the post-hippie era when free love could come for anyone at a price and women and queers were beginning to feel their power. The city was still run by criminals, but other voices are beginning to be heard. Stellar acting from Maggie Gyllenhaal, luminous in the pivotal role of Candy. James Franco plays double duty as twins Vincent who’s smart and a hard worker and Frankie who’s proud of being a fuck-up. I hate to say this after all the posing Franco’s done over the years but damn that boy can act. The Deuce features Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire), Gary Carr (Downton Abbey), Dominique Fishback (as my heart Darlene), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Wire), Margarita Levieva, Emily Meade, Method Man, Kayla Foster, Don Harvey, Chris Bauer (The Wire, True Blood), Chris Coy (Treme), Natalie Paul, Michael Rispoli, Kim Director, Pernell Walker (Ruby!), Tariq Trotter, and Ralph Macchio (yes, him). Told you it was an ensemble. Chris Coy plays quiet, sexy, out and proud Paul with dignity and mischief. Everyone fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. The Deuce moves slow and steady through the subtle changes which affected the avalanche of what has become a 97 billion dollar industry. David Simon gives due respect to the industry’s beginnings and the characters who made it all happen. 4 out of 5 for The Deuce.


Babylon Berlin: Episode 2 – The Dance Sequence

February 2, 2018

I started watching the Netflix German television series, Babylon Berlin created and produced by Tom Tykwer and friends. It’s got a lot of violence, but I’m still enjoying the complicated story and the lush production value – it’s the most expensive television series ever produced outside of the U.S. Last night, I caught episode two from the first season. There’s a dance sequence in the series that’s insanely beautiful, celebratory, and just plain fun. Imagine a flash mob in 1929 headed by a beautiful woman in drag. It’s just plain gorgeous.

Season 1 review coming in a few.
Check the dance sequence out on YouTube.

Love & War: Season 1, Episode 1

February 1, 2018

Sometimes you just can’t go home again. I remember being so excited when Susan Dey announced she would star in a Diane English (Murphy Brown) sit-com after leaving L.A. Law. Dey exited Love & War after the first season citing creative differences. The reality stemmed from the lack of chemistry between co-star Jay Thomas and Susan. Amazon Prime streams the first two seasons of Love & War. Annie Potts (Designing Women, The Fosters) took over for Susan in Season 2. It doesn’t take long for the awkwardness to set in during the pilot. That coupled with the leads breaking the fourth wall to discuss their feelings about each other made for a cringe-worthy episode. Those of you familiar with Reel Charlie know how much I adore Susan Dey. It is with heavy heart I give Love & War a 2 out of 5. Next.

God’s Own Country

January 30, 2018

Call Me By Your Name may be taking up a lot of space in awards season buzz, but I challenge its status as a gay film. It’s a bi film. It’s a pan film. It’s a fluid film. It’s a questioning film. And it’s a mediocre film. If you want to see a beautiful, gritty gay male love story, catch God’s Own Country now out on disk and streaming. It’s springtime in Yorkshire. It’s lambing season. Young farmer Johnny Saxby resigns himself to a lonely life on his parents’ farm tending livestock. Johnny spends his nights getting pissed in the local pub which remarkably for this small town leads to hook-ups with other men. And while at least one of the young men want more from Johnny, it’s not until the arrival of Romanian farm hand Gheorghe Ionescu, that Johnny glimpses the possibility of a full and complete life, something he never dared dream. The leads Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu exude a natural chemistry and grit in their performances. The only warning I’ll make in this film is the brutality of farm life. Animals are auctioned off, off-spring born, animals die. Farmers experience life like no other profession. And in the middle of the mud and cold, a beautiful lamb is born. God’s Own Country gives us the kind of quiet, respectful film we deserve. The stark West Yorkshire scenery becomes its own cruel character. Even the interior shots seem bitter cold to me. But the love between these two men slowly starts to thaw everything around it. 4 out of 5 for God’s Own Country.

Grace and Frankie: Season 4

January 28, 2018

Grace And Frankie

Grace and Frankie continues to be a mixed bag for me. Just when I’m ready to give up, something clicks and the stories feel real and I feel a part of the show. Season 4 took its good old-time getting me to that place. Lots of silliness mixed with awkwardness. At the very least, the balance between the girls, the kids, and the ex-husbands seems to flow better each season. There’s even room for additional characters – boyfriends, thrupple potential, kids’ partners, along with oddballs and girlfriends. All in all, I enjoy the show. It just never seems to bowl me over like it finally did in Season 2. I gave the show a 4 out of 5. Seasons 1 & 3 each got a 3 out of 5. Same for this season. Wondering where they might head next.

Looking: Season 1 (take 5)

January 14, 2018

Read my full review of Looking: Season 1. Simply gorgeous.

Chelsea: Season 2

December 20, 2017

It’s weird saying goodbye to Chelsea Handler’s show, Chelsea on Netflix. I’ve been a fan since the very first episode. I never watched her original shows on network TV. I did catch her series of documentaries, Chelsea Does she created for Netflix. That made me excited for her latest incarnation. I love her irreverence and also her honesty. When she started getting political during last year’s election cycle, I was hooked. This year she made it her goal to not only entertain, but to educate. And she succeeded, hosting politicians and pundits for every conceivable topic. She focused on women. She should be very proud of the work she’s done this past year plus. She leaves Netflix not to begin another financial adventure, but to team up with Emily’s List and get people out to vote for pro-choice women Democratic candidates in 2018 and beyond.

Bravo girl. You do us proud. The comedic sketches may have been lame most of the time, but your interviews were amazing and your work added a gut punch to the horrors of those in office on the right. 4.5 out of 5. Best of luck in your new journey.

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.

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