Archive for the ‘Financial’ Category

Ozark

August 1, 2017

Laura Linney and Jason Bateman star as married couple Wendy and Marty Byrd in Netflix’s new creepy crime drama, Ozark. There’s now a solid sub-genre of crime drama where an otherwise ordinary person or family gets involved in high crime. I’m not talking white-collar crime. I’m talking kill people and dissolve them in acid crime. Ozark definitely follows this trend as a child of Breaking Bad. And that’s not a bad thing. Especially when the acting is top-notch and the location shoot is beautifully eerie. There are of course the many plot thrusters which have to be ignored, such as people not hearing gun shots from close range, police not being called when someone destroys a hotel room, or FBI agents drinking on the job. But if you can suspend your belief for an hour at a time, you’ll be rewarded with a scary and exciting first season of life in rural Midwest. Yes, there’s a few scenes that are disgusting. But it’s fun and worth the watch if you can stand the violence. 4 out of 5.

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Treme: Season 1 (take 2)

March 17, 2017

David Simon’s 2010 follow-up to The Wire uncovers a meditation on New Orleans post-Katrina. Complicated, nuanced, with a phenomenal ensemble cast and the best variety of music any series has yet to produce. Click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s updated review.

Doctor Thorne

May 28, 2016

doctor thorneAmazon Prime purchased the new mini-series, Doctor Thorne produced and written by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey). Based on the Anthony Trollope novel, Doctor Thorne focuses on a small town and the too familiar stories of the haves and have-nots. Major themes include illegitimacy, alcoholism, social class, elections, and dwindling finances. Unfortunately, Doctor Thorne lacks the punch Downton Abbey produced on a regular basis. Even as I marveled at the locations, aerial shots of the mansions, and interiors, I realized on its worst day Downton Abbey continued to captivate. Doctor Thorne pales in comparison. 3 out of 5 (barely).

Schitt’s Creek

March 28, 2016

schitts creek s1Watched an episode and a half of the new Canadian series Schitt’s Creek from creators Eugene Levy and son Daniel Levy. Even though Christopher Guest is nowhere near the production, comparisons to his deadpan mockumentaries can’t help but be made – the re-pairing of the elder Levy with Catherine O’Hara (Co-Co-Co-Cookie!)  as well as the signature deadpan black comedy. Perhaps most interesting about the series (yes, I read ahead online) is Daniel’s character David who appears gay (whatever that means in 2016), but turns out to be pansexual by season’s end. The series is fun, but didn’t grab me enough to watch the full season. 2.5 out of 5 for Schitt’s Creek.

The Big Short

January 4, 2016

big shortAdam McKay whose previous work I would never watch – Anchorman, Step Brothers truly hit it out of the park with the adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book on the 2008 financial crash, The Big Short. How do you make something depressing, confusing and downright boring (numbers) entertaining? With a really smart script with clipped pacing including breaking the fourth wall several times to explain overwhelming financial concepts. Add a stellar cast including Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, and even Selena Gomez. I can feel the Oscar buzz already – Best Picture, Director, Editing nominations at least. I know a movie’s great when the subject matter doesn’t interest me yet I am wow-ed by the picture. Truly outstanding indictment on the greed, fraud, corruption and deceit from Wall Street and the banking industry. 5 out of 5 for The Big Short. A must-see.

Actresses on the Stubborn Sexism of Hollywood (New York Times)

September 12, 2015

carol

Great article and interviews with many people in Hollywood on the role of women in movies. From The New York Times,

Carol, Laurel, Jules, Therese, Maud. These are just a few of the lead characters in a fall season that is by all accounts a big one for female-driven movies.

“Freeheld,” based on a documentary, stars Julianne Moore as the terminally ill New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester, who becomes an advocate for gay rights when government officials prevent her from assigning her pension benefits to her domestic partner (played by Ellen Page). Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, “Carol” is a 1950s melodrama with Cate Blanchett as the married title character and Rooney Mara as her lover, Therese, that has already won accolades at Cannes. “Suffragette” tells the little-known story of the militant women’s emancipation movement in England, directed and written by women, with Carey Mulligan as Maud, a foot soldier in the fight. “The Intern,” directed by Nancy Meyers, follows Jules (Anne Hathaway), an Internet entrepreneur struggling to manage her company’s success with the help of an intern (Robert De Niro) who’s a senior citizen.

From 2007 through 2014, women made up only 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films distributed in the United States, according to a report released in August by the University of Southern California. Only 19.9 percent of female characters were 40 to 64 years old. Only 1.9 percent of the movies were directed by women. And the numbers for minority women are even worse.

The movie industry is “failing women,” Manohla Dargis of The Times has said.

Is this fall’s crop an exception or a possible sign of a shift afoot? Certainly there are no major films built around women of color on the horizon. So we asked actresses, writers and directors (including a few men) from forthcoming films about what’s changed, what needs to change and how. They didn’t always agree, and the subject won’t be settled anytime soon.

Read the entire article for the great comments from some of our favorite actors, screenwriters, directors and producers.

4 LGBT Crowdfund Films that Deserve Your Hard-Earned Pink Dollars (Towleroad)

August 7, 2015

From Towleroad,

With crowdfunding continuing to grow as a viable means by which LGBT storytellers are getting their projects made, we decided to highlight 4 LGBT projects currently seeking funding online for you to consider supporting.

Check out all four films, Playing Gay: How America Came Out on Television, Dragstrip 66: The Frockumentary, Dodie and Cheryl Get Hitched, and Ribbons and help out by clicking on the titles which link to their crowdfund page.

Read the entire article at Towleroad.

A Most Violent Year

May 19, 2015

a most violent yearSo here’s my question. Who comes up with an idea to write a screenplay about competing home heating oil companies stealing from each other in the metropolitan NYC area during the 1980’s? Is it writer/director J.C. Chandor? And when he does come up with this idea, how does he write the script so it turns out not only smart but suspenseful? How do I know it was suspenseful? Because I jumped and yelled at least three times during the film. How do I know that? Because my dog Farley has started running to me whenever I shriek during a movie and licking my face to comfort me. A Most Violent Year was a three face lick film. And finally how do you get funding and find stars like Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Albert Brooks and David Oyelowo to sign on? In the end the answer to all of these questions is who cares because the film is extremely well-constructed. I was amazed at how well it held my attention. Sensitive artist types might want to ponder Chandor’s use of the color yellow. Sensitive types in general might want to know that although it’s not a non-stop uber-violent piece, it’s still got a modicum of queasy violence. But A Most Violent Year is a smart film with outstanding pacing and worth the violent moments. I’ve never known characters like these in real life. I still have no desire to know them personally. But somehow Chandor makes their story riveting. Oh, and beefcake fans take note: Alessandro Nivola’s butt in those tennis shorts is worth the price of admission. 4 out of 5 for A Most Violent Year.

Netflix is raising prices for new members (The Verge)

April 21, 2014

Netflix_API2_512Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced a price increase first for new members and eventually for all of us. From The Verge,

Netflix is about to get more expensive, but only by a dollar or two. In his company’s Q1 letter to shareholders, CEO Reed Hastings said, “Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only.” Hastings then noted that existing customers will be able to stay at current monthly rates (e.g. $7.99 in the US) “for a generous time period.”

Read the full article.
Do you care if Netflix goes up a dollar or two as long as it remains under $10/month?

Attention, Film Fans: Here’s Why You Should Worry About the Comcast-Time Warner Deal (Indiewire)

February 17, 2014

Indiewire breaks it down into simple language why the merger between Comcast and Time Warner could prove trouble for the public on many levels. From IndieWire,

When the news broke earlier this week that Comcast, the country’s No. 1 cable provider, is going to buy Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 cable provider, in a $45 billion all-stock deal, Twitter was aflutter with gripes that cable service couldn’t get much worse.

“Comcast and Time Warner are merging. Finally, you don’t have to choose between terrible customer service and awful internet speeds!” tweeted CC:Indecision.

But joking aside, there’s a real reason to be concerned about the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Many creators and programmers are understandably concerned that the newly formed cable behemoth will monopolize the industry, driving up prices for consumers and limiting options for programming.

The Writers Guild of America, West issued the following statement regarding the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable: “Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable is bad for everyone: content creators, programmers, suppliers, and consumers.  As writers know all too well, media consolidation leads to already too powerful companies limiting competition.  The WGAW will fight to stop this ill-conceived merger.”

So, why, exactly is the merger such bad news for consumers – and film fans, in particular? 

Economics 101 teaches us that less competition means higher prices. The companies said that the deal will be “pro-consumer, pro-competitive, and will generate substantial public interest benefits.” Comcast assured that Time Warner customers will see faster Internet service, but it’s questionable whether service will improve without higher prices.

Comcast already has a bad reputation when it comes to internet speeds — see how far down on the list it ranks on Netflix’s monthly ISP speed index.

But the main reason film fans and lovers are quality content — as well as creators of content — should be concerned is that both companies have their own special programming interests — Comcast owns NBC Universal and both Comcast and Time Warner have had past disputes with content providers over carriage agreements.

John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney, Public Knowledge, a group which supports the openness of the internet, called on regulators to stop the deal and issued the following statement:

“If Comcast takes over Time Warner Cable, it would wield unprecedented gatekeeper power in several important markets.  It is already the nation’s largest ISP, the nation’s largest video provider, and one of the nation’s largest home phone providers.  It also controls a movie studio, broadcast network, and many popular cable channels. An enlarged Comcast would be the bully in the schoolyard, able to dictate terms to content creators, Internet companies, other communications networks that must interconnect with it, and distributors who must access its content.”

Read the entire Indiewire article.


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