Archive for the ‘Ensemble’ 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.

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Transparent: Season 4

October 1, 2017

“Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you and anoint you…”

Who knew the Pfeffermans were as obsessed with Jesus Christ Superstar as I was when I was a little boy. And they remember the words to the songs after all these years. Even Maura’s sister! Such a magnificent and glorious television series Transparent continues to be. Is this the most loving, dysfunctional family you’ve ever met? Does yours rival them? Mine sure doesn’t. Which is probably why I love watching them tick. This season the family connects with their spiritual and social roots on a trip to Israel. Every one comes together and then proceeds to find their own corner and take some time out to contemplate life: Josh at meetings, Sarah with Len, Ali at the farm, and Maura and Shelly meditating in the midst of the chaos. The only logical family member of Maura’s who gets any back story time this season is the luminous Davina, my favorite non-Pfefferman. We dig deeper into Davina’s past to find her vulnerabilities. I love Davina even more after this season. She is the heart, soul, and calm of the show. Alexandra Billings brings nuance and wisdom to the role. Can’t say enough how much I adore Transparent. 5 out of 5 for this family ensemble.

The Five

September 30, 2017

Honestly enjoyed the U.K. mystery series, The Five created by Harlan Coben. The 10-episode story features solid performances from O-T Fagbenle (Looking), Tom Cullen (Weekend, Downton Abbey), Sarah Solemani, and Lee Ingleby. The four play childhood friends facing the resurrection of a sibling gone missing case from 20 years ago. Although the middle of the story veers into several non-realistic plot turns, I hung in there and was rewarded with an exciting story filled with extremely satisfying characters. Normally I’d give something like this a 3.5 out of 5. But the addition of a librarian character with the major discovery scene taking place in a public library, the beautiful use of pop music, and the way each episode ends on a nail-biting question left me no excuse but to give The Five a 4 out of 5.

Atypical: Season 1

September 11, 2017

Atypical took me by complete surprise. I guess I wasn’t expecting to love it so much. Kier Gilchrist stars as Sam, an 18 year-old boy living on the Autism spectrum. Gilchrist proved his chops as son Marshall or (nickname) Marshmallow on Toni Collette’s The United States of Tara a few years ago. I just knew he and Brie Larson were destined for a great future. Gilchrist’s Sam is in his last year of high school. He’s beginning to want to break away from the safe world his parents have created for him. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport play his parents perfectly. Newcomer Brigette Lundy-Paine shines brightly as Sam’s younger sister who looks out for her quirky big brother. Rounding out the cast are Amy Okuda as Sam’s therapist and Nik Dodani as his dorky co-worker who is an unreliable fount of wisdom. Honestly the series focuses on the autism, but ends up being an ensemble piece as each character has their moment or two. Beautifully written, acted, and directed, I can’t recommend this enough. And 30-minute episodes makes this first season an easy four-hour commitment. Speaking of fours, I give Atypical a 4 out of 5.

All of These Shows Are Coming to Hulu (NY Times)

September 4, 2017

Love classic television? Interested in trying out Hulu? Then you’ll be happy to read Hulu struck a deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution for over 3,000 episodes of their television catalog. From NY Times,

Get ready to update your Watchlist, because Hulu is about to add a raft of shows to its streaming library. (Included are classics such as:)

The Bob Newhart Show
St. Elsewhere
NYPD Blue
M*A*S*H
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Hill Street Blues

Read the full list of shows at The New York Times.

 

Matewan

August 31, 2017

John Sayles’ 1987 film, Matewan creates the perfect introduction to independent film for the American Director’s series screening at the library this Fall. I wanted to show a Sayles film from the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s. I believe Matewan will mesh beautifully with Lone Star and Sunshine State. Based on the true story of beleaguered coal miners in 1920 West Virginia, Sayles’ enlists his signature ensemble cast featuring Chris Cooper, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Gordon Clapp, and Joe Wright to tell an important American story. Was Sayles the first filmmaker to not only use groups of diverse actors but feature strong stories based on the lives of people of all races? Certainly this theme follows Sayles through the other two films featured in the series. Matewan stands strong after 30 years and remains just as essential now as we face a nearly non-existent middle class with no labor relations to protect working people from corporate greed. Matewan reminds us there’s no going back to sending humans into dangerous, life-shortening mining jobs. Sayles masterfully crafts a film about a time when companies treated humans like disposable slaves, as the workers began to assert their rights for a decent and honorable life. A must-see. 5 out of 5 for Matewan.

Read about the real Matewan Massacre on the West Virginia Archives and History website.

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.

Transparent: Season 3 (take 2)

August 15, 2017

Click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s updated review of the splendorous Amazon Prime original series Transparent.

Prison Break: Event Series

August 9, 2017

A lot has changed in the twelve years since Prison Break premiered on Fox in 2005. American television kept climbing until the best industry people take time to create phenomenal series truly elevating the medium to an art form. Which makes it more and more difficult for me to watch mediocrity. I loved the escapist comfort food of Prison Break back in the day. The series took me out of my world and allowed me to spend time… well if truth be told, I spent time fantasizing about a threesome with Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller. Fast-forward 12 years. Dominic Purcell is still broodingly masculine. Wentworth Miller got a little closer to my reality by coming out of the closet. And my taste in television got a lot more sophisticated thanks to the dearth of outstanding choices from streaming services, premium cable channels and even a few broadcast shows. Too bad the new incarnation of Prison Break just doesn’t hold my attention. Dominic and Wentworth are still sexy as all hell. But I need my eye candy with a sophisticated plot and outstanding writing. Golden Age of Television: you’ve spoiled me for the pretty boys. 2.5 out of 5. Next.

Transparent: Season 2 (take 2)

August 8, 2017

Reel Charlie continues a second look at Maura Pfefferman and family in Amazon Prime’s exquisite Transparent. Click on the image below for an updated review of Transparent: Season 2.


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