Archive for the ‘Grief’ Category

One Book One Town (OBOT) 2023 Library Podcast

March 19, 2023

Aside from my Reel Charlie Speaks, I also host a podcast at my work where we gather three library staff and myself each month to talk about our favorite new books. In the Spring, Fairfield What Are Your Reading dedicates an episode to our One Book, One Town read. This year we welcome Ivan Maisel and his wife Meg Murray to discuss Ivan’s book, I Keep Trying to Catch His Eye, Maisel’s memoir about the loss of their son to suicide. My colleague Mary Coe and I listen to Ivan and Meg’s journey through grief as individuals, a couple, and parents.

Find the episode on your favorite podcast platform by searching, Fairfield What Are You Reading or by clicking on this link.

Discover Ivan’s amazing memoir.

Jean 9/102

February 19, 2023

My Mom, Jean Gould Mellinger Bahr died nine years ago on February 20, 2023. Her birthday is four days later on February 24th. She would have been 102 this year. Yikes. I still miss her like I knew I would miss her. I don’t cry often anymore, except at least once each Christmas holiday, just like she did missing her Mom. And when I experience something I wish I could share with her, sometimes I think, “damnit, I wish I could talk to you…” and other times I just get teary. She lived a great life. She was a quiet, gentle soul whose role as Matriarch still reverberates within my family today. My eldest niece Nikki mentioned to me last month how much she misses talking and visiting with her grandmother.

The last two movies she loved were eclectic, just like her taste in music. The last film she saw in the theater was Milk which she loved. The last thing she, my sister Nancy, and I watched together was Adele’s first recorded concert at The Royal Albert Hall. Every time I hear Adele’s music, I smile a bit remembering my sweet mother. Miss you Jean. I’m glad you’re not here to see the mess this country’s in. You lived through the depression, WWII, and McCarthyism. I carry your love and kindness as much as I can. I get angry too often, and want to punch more than a few people who are trying to tear down this beautiful country. But in my Jean moments, when I truly am your son, I send them all love, let go of what I can’t change on my own, give where I can, and continue reading my book.

Reel Charlie’s reviews:
Adele: Live at The Royal Albert Hall

Mare of Easttown (take 2)

January 17, 2023

Wonderful crashing once again through small town Pennsylvania and a murder mystery with Kate Winslet and Jean Smart. Click here or on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s updated review.

Mare of Easttown currently streams on HBO Max.

Interviews: Zelenskyy, Brunson, and Springsteen

December 19, 2022



Three big interviews aired recently on streaming services. All are worthwhile in their own right.

  1. David Letterman flew to Kiev and interviewed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a subway platform far below the ground where the war with Russia rages on.
  2. Oprah Winfrey interviewed Quinta Brunson the creator of Abbott Elementary.
  3. Howard Stern interviewed Bruce Springsteen.

For various reasons, all three of these are excellent choices. President Zelenskyy’s interview speaks intimately and urgently. Quinta Brunson’s interview showcases a new generation’s voice. And Bruce Springsteen’s interview covers an entire career.

Zelenskyy’s interview currently streams on Netflix.
Brunson’s interview aired on OWN, and currently streams on HBO Max and Discovery+.
Springsteen’s interview currently streams on HBO Max.

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.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

October 3, 2022

I have no idea why I scared myself watching Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The first night I finished two episodes and thought I heard someone outside of the house as I was getting ready for bed. Ryan Murphy’s production company created this limited series starring American Horror Story alum, Evan Peters who chillingly and remarkably plays Dahmer to the core. Also in the cast are Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) as Dahmer’s father and Molly Ringwald as Dahmer’s step-mother. Jenkins is his usual magic to watch and he gets a number of moments in the series. Ringwald’s role is limited and supporting at best. It is Niecy Nash who aside from Peters, steals the show in every scene she is in as Dahmer’s terrified neighbor, Glenda Cleveland. This stuff is so much spookier because it actually happened. Chilling. Not for the faint of heart, but there are many outstanding scenes aside from the obvious gross out parts of Dahmer’s lust for blood and death. I had no idea Dahmer mainly targeted men of color. 17 young men had their lives cut short because of Dahmer’s murders. Sick. 4 out of 5 for the limited series. Though I doubt I will ever watch it again.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story currently streams on Netflix.

I can’t get the KC and the Sunshine Band song, Please Don’t Go out of my mind. It’s featured prominently in the film as are other 70’s and 80’s music. Shiver.

Reel Charlie Speaks – Episode 2: HIV AIDS Films

July 25, 2022

It took two months instead of one, but I am publishing the second Reel Charlie Speaks podcast. In Reel Charlie Speaks, I focus on a classic piece of work and discuss what it meant to me when I first discovered it and how it has stood the test of time. Today I reflect upon six HIV AIDS films from my list of the best HIV AIDS Films I’ve compiled over the years.

Read Reel Charlie film reviews on each of the titles discussed in this episode:
Adventures of Felix (currently not streaming in the U.S.)
Before I Forget (currently not streaming in the U.S.)
Blue (streaming on Kanopy)
How to Survive a Plague (streaming on Amazon Prime and SlingTV)
Parting Glances (streaming on Plex, Amazon Prime, and Philo)
Zero Patience (streaming on The Criterion Channel)

See the full list of Reel Charlie’s HIV AIDS films.

Philip Bahr marching in ACT-UP demo. Kennebunkport, Maine. September 1, 1991. Screen grab from the film How to Survive a Plague

Coming up:
August 2022: Coming Out
September 2022: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City


Somebody Somewhere: Season 1

March 11, 2022

A number of talented people are creating deeply personal, incredibly creative television shows right now. Reel Charlie’s recently reviewed Sort Of and As We See It. Add to that list Bridget Everett’s Somebody Somewhere. Show runner Everett’s story of a 40-something women who comes back to her hometown to care for her terminally ill sister resonates with so many of us. A lot of middle age people do this. They commit to taking care of a relative or loved one and then after the death, they are lost and living in a hometown they never fit in. Everett’s Sam takes us on a journey of belonging, identity, and why so many of us never quite hit those adult markers (marriage, kids, mortgage, career) and how that is completely ok. I loved this show and the characters. Joining Everett are a number of outstanding actors including Jeff Hiller, downtown NYC performer Murray Hill, Jon Hudson Odom, Jane Brody, Mike Hagerty – achingly playing Sam’s Dad, and Mary Catherine Garrison. Somebody Somewhere is smart, hip – in a small town kind of way, sharp, poignant, and real. It’s also a 5 out of 5 for Reel Charlie. Loving that this sweet series got renewed for another season.

Somebody Somewhere currently streams on HBO Max.

2/2023: Watched the series once again. I wanted to know if it truly was as good as I remember. It is. It’s the kind of series that has so much heart and intelligence in the story and then the producers hire amazing people to tell create the series – the cast, the directors, the set designers, the location scouts, the cinematographer. All pitch perfect. The final episode of Season 1 is so sublime. I can’t wait for Season 2.

Ozark: Season 4, Part 1

January 25, 2022

Ozark‘s final season gets split in two, twice the possibility for our blood pressure to rise. Twice the opportunity to go to bed at night wondering if we remembered to lock all the doors and windows. No one’s safe from violence and death in this penultimate look at Wendy and Marty Bryde, their children, friends, family, and colleagues. Oh and their enemies, many of whom fall in to the aforementioned categories. Regular Reel Charlie readers know I am not a fan of violence. But I have to say I am attracted to projects which tell the story of ordinary, law-abiding citizens who fall into a world of crime and violence, justifying what they do because of their new-found morality, or lack of it. Ozark owes its reality to Breaking Bad and other shows spinning that morality tale in such a sophisticated manner. I just get obsessed with it. I am also a huge Laura Linney fan and discovered early on I am one degree of separation from insanely talented Lisa Emory (Darlene) thanks to my dear friend David. Lots of strong female characters in this show. Ozark’s tough and it keeps you scared shitless through most of the episodes. It’s also psychologically pitch perfect making you wonder if you might fall prey to illegal payoffs if they ever presented themselves to you. Probably not, but it’s still great television to imagine what if. Part 1 ends with the departure of some incredibly strong characters. There’s also an early scene that makes you wonder if this entire season is a flashback. I am trying so hard not to give away any spoilers. So I will end with shiver, scary, hold-your-breath amazing Ozark. Can’t wait for the final few episodes to land – no release date yet, but given other Netflix shows with split seasons, it may only be a matter of months. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile 5 out of 5 for the show that scares me the way Dark Shadows did when I was a wee boy.

Finding Alice

January 7, 2022

Finding Alice, a U.K. series starring Keeley Hawes (MI-5) as a recent widow whose life falls apart in so many ways the viewer wonders how will she ever piece it back together. Alice’s long-term partner Harry dies suddenly after building their dream home. Alice and her teenage daughter Charlotte attempt to move forward in life while honoring Harry’s memory and legacy. The series takes the viewer to the extremes of grief. Most of us don’t respond as aggressively as Alice. But it turns out aggressive grief is fascinating to watch. Reminds you to hope no one you love gets that out of control. Alice makes a mountain of mistakes and faces so many unearthed secrets, it’s hard to keep track. These dramatic series are a great departure from the usual detective/murder series I watch from England. The final episode leaves a few loose ends, dare I say even some creepy possibilities. I felt myself pining for a little boredom and dullness for Alice. 4 out of 5.

Finding Alice currently streams on Acorn TV. According to online sources, there’s a second season in the works. I first became aware of Keeley on Spooks (MI-5) with Matthew Macfadyen. They starred together and ended up marrying in 2004. Macfadyen currently stars as Tom on Succession. Talented spouses.

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