Archive for the ‘Family’ 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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The Little Foxes

October 4, 2017

Every so often, I watch a classic film for the first time and get blown away. Such was the case with The Little Foxes. Talent lives in every inch of this movie. The remarkable cast includes Bette Davis, Teresa Wright, Herbert Marshall, Richard Carlson, Dan Duryea, and Patricia Collinge (two years away from reuniting with Teresa Wright in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt). Directed by the luminous William Wyler (The Best Years of Our LivesThe Heiress, Funny Girl), screenplay by Lillian Hellman with additional scenes and dialogue written by Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell, and music by Meredith Willson, with costume design by Orry-Kelly. But honestly it’s the writing and delivery which makes this film so strong, so lasting. Nearly every minute captivated me. Not an easy task for a 75-year-old work. The Little Foxes does that and more. It rises above melodrama and Southern stereotypes to become that illusive perfect classic film. 5 out of 5 for the Bette Davis masterpiece.

One Mississippi: Season 2

September 21, 2017

Spoiler alerts: What I found missing since discovering Tig Notaro’s projects which definitely weave real life with fiction is the idea of naming her sexuality. She certainly doesn’t hide being a lesbian. She just never says the word. It’s a very post-gay, urban stance – to imagine the culture has progressed to the point where it’s unnecessary for labels. We simply show up with a partner and if they are of the same gender, then that is who you are with. It’s a lovely thought for a Star Trek episode. But for the current world we live in, I disagree. For years I have said the world outside of urban gay ghettos doesn’t embrace everyone equally. That idea felt quaint and outdated to many. With the advent of the election last year, everyone’s eyes have been opened to the need to stand up and be counted – as a person of color, as a woman, as an immigrant, as a person of science, and as LGBTQ. So I was thrilled to see Tig name her sexuality. Tig uses the words gay and lesbian strongly during the first two episodes of her sophomore season of One Mississippi. It feels right especially in our post-election reality. However in the middle of all this, the audience is thrown a huge curve when fictional Tig explains to her yet requited love interest Kate (straight Kate as Tig’s brother dubs her) played by Tig’s real life wife, Stephanie Allynne that she’s dated men. No not before she came out, but after. She tells Kate that gender is something that’s specific from a distance, but up close its blurred. Uh what? Why isn’t her character bisexual? I can’t help but think in order for openly gay women and men to be considered reasonable and accepting, we are now expected to embrace having relationships with people of the opposite gender. Just in case anyone might want to label us closed-minded. Tig’s fictional character doesn’t talk about being bisexual. Or being mostly lesbian. She doesn’t talk about being attracted to trans or gender fluid people. She simply drops that bombshell and moves on. It makes absolutely no sense and colored my enjoyment of the series for the rest of the season. I don’t need every queer character to be a gold star gay like me. I know there are all kinds of people in the world. But this kind of posturing rings so politically correct and inauthentic, I’m not buying it. Especially not for Tig’s character.

I realize this argument is my personal argument. I own that. The rest of the season waffles between extremely artful expressions of golden age television and awkward trying too hard moments. I hung in there and will check out Season 3 if it gets renewed. I’m giving One Mississippi: Season 2 a 3 out of 5.

Viceroy’s House

September 17, 2017

Gurinder Chadha’s (What’s Cooking, Bend it Like Beckham) personal film about the Partition of India during the 1940’s might be a bit light on the savagery of history, but it’s gorgeous to watch unfold. Chadha dedicates the film to her grandmother who was separated from her family during the Partition and miraculously found her way back to them. So if the film sometimes veers into Celine Dion crescendos, I give the director a pass since she’s telling the story from her very personal perspective of what the independence did to her own family. Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson play the Viceroy Mountbatten and Lady Mountbatten perfectly. The costuming, sets (how did they manage to recreate the palace?), location shooting, and interiors all picture perfect as we’ve come to expect from U.K. and Indian productions. But the real stars of this film are Huma Qureshi and Manish Dayal as the Shakespearean lovers, Aalia and Jeet. Their story transforms the timeline from cold and political to deeply personal. Mr. Dayal can be difficult to watch at times because he is so alarmingly handsome, you, ok I forget to pay attention to the story. In the end, viewers of harsh, war-torn stories might be a taken aback by the simplicity and niceties of the film. I found the balance between the cruel world and Chadha’s modern lush creation satisfying. 3.5 out of 5.

For a taste of how Gurinder Chadha interprets the American Thanksgiving holiday, check out her Reel Charlie favorite What’s Cooking.

Family Band: The Cowsills Story

September 14, 2017

Watched the 2011 documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story currently streaming on Netflix. The band had several Top 40 hits in the 1960’s. During my childhood, they were mostly known for inspiring the television series, The Partridge Family and singing the theme song to Love, American Style. The Cowsills originally included four brothers, then added their Mom and little sister. The doc turns out to be a fascinating look at the behind the scenes turmoil of the family mostly due to their father’s negative manipulation and his alcoholism. Interviews include each of the siblings, aunts, uncles, former managers, producers along with great archival performance footage. If you’ve ever envied early fame, this film will certainly cure you of that. In the end, the family works through some of their issues. Definitely a niche audience – lovers of pre-psychedelic 60’s pop music, bubblegum teen idols, show biz and dysfunctional families will enjoy Family Band. 3 out of 5.

Watch The Cowsills perform, The Rain, The Park, and Other Things and the far from PC Indian Lake on YouTube.

Rocco

September 13, 2017

Netflix streams the documentary, Rocco based on the final year of Rocco Siffredi’s 30 year career in (straight) porn. It’s beyond unusual for any man in straight porn to be dubbed a star. Most are known for their dicks, not their faces. Somehow Siffredi has overcome this obstacle to become a household name for many who like his brand of porn – straight, European, and gonzo. I thought the film would be an honest look into the life of the man who retired for his wife and sons. I was looking for answers to questions about fantasy, gender roles, misogyny, men controlling the industry, honestly the ideas to discuss are endless. Instead the filmmakers decided to create a more stylized, artistic film that never digs deep to get into Rocco’s head. For a more realistic look at the straight porn industry, I’d suggest Kink.com which presents its subjects in a more honest manner and doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. Rocco didn’t make it past the 25 minute mark. 2 out of 5. Next.

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.

3 Generations

September 10, 2017

Heard some buzz about the film, 3 Generations – a trans coming out story centered around a 16 year-old biological girl who wants to transition to a boy. Starring Elle Fanning as FTM Ray, Naomi Watts as his single mother, and Susan Sarandon as his lesbian grandmother, the casting is certainly strong. There were some obvious choices made in the film which didn’t excite me, but they were balanced with several thoughtful pieces of writing which made the film worth watching especially for anyone looking to explore the trans community through a non-exploitative lens. This isn’t a documentary and there are no trans actors in sight, but what the director and cast do with the material is decent and respectful. 3.5 out of 5 for 3 Generations.

The 20 Best LGBTQ Movies of the 21st Century (Indiewire)

September 5, 2017

From Indiewire,

“Moonlight.” “The Handmaiden.” “Carol.” The last few years have not only brought LGBTQ films and stories further into the mainstream, but queer films have dominated awards seasons and found commercial success. This has been a long time coming: The New Queer Cinema was a major influence on the indie film boom of the ’90s, and set the bar high for the many queer films to follow.

From the list of 20, Reel Charlie favorites include,

Far From Heaven
Pariah
Tarnation
Milk
I Killed My Mother
The Kids Are All Right
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Tangerine
Weekend
Stranger by the Lake
Carol
Moonlight

Click on the film titles above to read Reel Charlie’s reviews.
Read Reel Charlie’s Best Gay Films 2010 – 2015.
See the complete list at Indiewire.

Disjointed

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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