Archive for the ‘Ensemble’ 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.

7 Women and a Murder (7 donne e un mistero)

January 31, 2023

Italian locked room murder mystery and comedy, 7 Women and a Murder is a remake of the 2002 film 8 Women by François Ozon, and the play Huit femmes by Robert Thomas. Kooky, campy, silly and lots of fun, this film is a perfect antidote to a long week at work or a difficult time navigating the news. 7 Women boasts an impressive international cast including Margherita Buy (His Secret Life), Diana Del Bufalo, Sabrina Impacciatore, Benedetta Porcaroli, Micaela Ramazzotti, Luisa Ranieri and Ornella Vanoni. Full disclosure, I fell asleep during the ending (that’s happening more and more lately) and couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. So I will be rewinding some early evening this week to find out whodunnit. Meanwhile the rest of the film I was awake for was charming, silly, and made me laugh out loud in places. And it all takes place during Christmas! 3.5 out of 5 which means it’s may not be perfect, but it’s worth a try if the details interest you.

7 Women and a Murder currently streams on Netflix.
By the way, have you noticed the outstanding international content Netflix is purchasing? I’m very happy to see that.


January 25, 2023

The German producers behind Dark bring us yet another television series, this one titled 1899, full of taking chances, heady intelligent scripts, and a story that’s hard to follow – in a good way. 1899 takes place on a steamship traveling from London to New York City just before – you guessed it – the turn of the 20th Century. Lots of immigrants on board, so the setting is money vs. poverty until a second vessel is discovered abandoned at sea. That’s all I will say. The complexity to the story along with great acting kept me coming back. Once a few major plotlines were revealed later in the season, I wondered if I loved it or was just watching to see how the showrunners would explain their way out of this
Sci-Fi/Suspense soup. Some of it seemed silly. Some of it was awe-inspiring. As with their previous show, the idea was to run 1899 for three seasons. Unfortunately Netflix pulled the plug and so no ending. Frustrating and unfortunately because I can’t rate subsequent series for closure, I give this season a 3.5 out of 5.

1899‘s one and only season currently streams on Netflix.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

January 7, 2023

I wanted to wait for a few days into the new year before posting a negative review. I didn’t like the first Knives Out. But so much fuss over the sequel, I thought Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery might redeem itself. Not sure why these films are so dull and devoid of camp. I sound like a broken record bringing up Clue again, but seriously Hollywood, watch that film and craft a modern day story in that vein with that type of humor. I will say the second half of Glass Onion gets better once Janelle Monáe’s character reveals herself to be someone else. That’s the only spoiler I’ll list. But then it quickly returns to dull. I realize comedy is subjective. That’s been one of the overarching lessons on Reel Charlie. But I seriously do not think these big budget comedies try hard enough. 2 out of 5. Next.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery currently streams on Netflix.

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.

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.

Selling the OC

October 5, 2022

I have no excuse or idea why I watched the entire first season of Selling the OC. It’s trash reality TV. I know these kinds of shows can be fun. There are so many mean characters on this show, so many drama queens. It was difficult sitting through parts, especially the last few episodes. I do like the actual real estate. I will never be able to afford a home, especially not a 20 million dollar home. But it’s still fun to look. So that part was a no-brainer. But the bitching and back-stabbing was hard to take. I know it’s reality TV and everyone’s assigned a character. Or perhaps that’s created in the editing room. Whatever, it was nasty. A couple of the guys stayed out of it, but for the most part, they make the women all look very catty. Not a good thing for 2022. Also, it’s a mostly white cast, and all but one is straight. There’s a bisexual man who gets no love interests. Yikes. 2 out of 5. Next.

Abbott Elementary: Season 1

September 25, 2022

It took me a long time to really give in to loving Abbott Elementary. I appreciated its intelligence and timing from the get-go. I get why it won Emmys. It’s got a style similar to Parks and Recreation, and The Office which I never connected with. I stayed with it through the entire first season and at Episode 11, I finally laughed really hard out loud. It’s half hour bites, so this one is perfect for a quick watch after a long day. Great to unwind to. Wonderful cast, excellent acting, writing, and directing. 3.5 out of 5.

Abbott Elementary currently streams on ABC, HBO Max, Hulu, fuboTV, and YouTube TV.

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