Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category

Antarctica: Ice and Sky

June 8, 2017

Watched the Luc Jaquet (March of the Penguins) documentary on the life of French glaciologist Claude Lorius, credited as the first scientist to discover evidence of climate change. The film is not a political or activist work. It is a quiet film about Lorius’ many expeditions and his findings. I felt the film could have used more editing. Still it is important to chronicle this man’s achievements. 3 out of 5.

Although the doc appears to be in French during the credits, the film is actually in English.

That Gay Episode: ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ Comes Out Of The Closet (Decider)

May 9, 2017

Photos: HULU ; Illustration: Dillen phelps; from Decider

Brett White over at Decider continues the series, That Gay Episode this time focusing on the famous Mary Tyler Moore episode where Phyllis finds out her brother is gay. From Decider,

Gay people worry about how they’re perceived — not for vanity reasons, but survival reasons. The period of a gay person’s life — be they minutes, months or years — between acknowledging their queer identity and proudly flying a rainbow flag are a nonstop internal Q(ueer) & A session.”Do they know I’m gay?” “Wait, does this make me seem gay?” “When do I tell them I’m gay?” It’s hard to express who you now know you are when you’re dealing with people whose perceptions of you run back decades.

These are the issues at the heart of The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s 1973 episode “My Brother’s Keeper.” Unlike Cheers‘ “The Boys in the Bar,” which tackled machismo and gay panic by making half the cast straight-up homophobes, “My Brother’s Keeper” saved its big gay reveal for the very end. To get all meta, this is a gay episode that literally plays it straight for 24 of its 25 minutes.

Read the full article.
Read Kenneth in the 212’s blog post about how this episode and other quintessential queer moments on television personally affected him.

Treme: Season 2 (take 2)

March 23, 2017

Great revisiting my friends in the Treme. What a sleeper hit this David Simon (The Wire) show continues to be. Read Reel Charlie’s updated review by clicking on the image below.

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.

I Am Not Your Negro

March 1, 2017

i-am-not-your-negroRaoul Peck’s devastating documentary, I Am Not Your Negro frames the words of author James Baldwin who tried to make sense of the murders of his friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. while imaging how his country might finally get rid of racism. Samuel L. Jackson provides the voice for Baldwin interspersed with interviews, film clips, and footage of events in the 1960’s forward which define our nation as fractured and segregated. Perhaps only Baldwin who is outside of outside as a gay, black man can clearly illustrate what it means to embody race and gender in America. I left the film not only feeling my white privilege, but realizing I can never truly understand what it means to live in this country as a person of color and specifically as an African-American. I can empathize, watch films, take a moment to feel others disadvantage. But tomorrow I will wake up and busy myself with the details, important or otherwise of my life and not think about race for several minutes, hours, days, or weeks until something jars me once again out of my sleep. For the black person in the United States, the feeling of other, of less than, of feared, of hated never ends. It is with them every moment of every day. Ironic that the election of a successful, talented, educated biracial man to President ushers in the worst era of public racism imaginable since the fight for equality during the 1960’s. Surprising, but not surprising. Makes me question hope. I Am Not Your Negro is mandatory viewing. You may not be in the mood to face these demons. But each of us has a responsibility to see this film, open our eyes and our hearts and work to make this country all it can be. 5 out of 5 for this essential documentary.

Hidden Figures

February 13, 2017


What a wonderfully uplifting film, Hidden Figures turned out to be. In my mind, the perfect way to educate is to entertain. Which is exactly what Hidden Figures did so right. It was packed with blatant racism and sexism. But through it all, the women supported each other, their families, and had so much smarts between them, they disintegrated the glass ceilings. Not an easy task to do. And why haven’t we heard of these women before? We all know the answer to that. Which is why films like Hidden Figures are so needed to change the tide, color and gender of the historical figures taught in school. When we celebrate everyone, we raise the bar for all. Inclusion and acknowledgement are not something to fear. They are an attainable goal to set our sights on. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe proved to be the triple crown for this film. Taraji in particular commanded the screen and displayed her acting skills in a role the antithesis of what she does on Empire. Such a treat spending two hours with these women teaching the world that quietly young women of color made important contributions to the successful history of our space program. 4 out of 5.


February 11, 2017

jackieI surprisingly enjoyed Jackie directed by Pablo Larrain (No), and written by Noah Oppenheim who penned Allegiant and The Maze Runner. Not sure what I was expecting, but Natalie Portman enveloped Jacqueline Kennedy completely and we are rewarded with a deeply solemn and personal character study of an American woman the week after she left the White House still grieving the loss of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. Simply told in flashback while Jackie confides to a reporter, Jackie breathed life once again into the dark story many of us grew up with – remarkably for many born around the same time I was it is perhaps our first memory. Larrain drapes this memory with exquisite detail. From IMDb,

Production Designer Jean Rabasse’s sets, many painstakingly re-created from archival material, synched up with cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine’s cinematography. “Jean created these massive rooms and then Stéphane framed Natalie [Natalie Portman playing Jacqueline Kennedy] in these long shots so that you feel her loneliness and despair. The White House sometimes feels like a maze she doesn’t know how to get out of,” producer Mickey Liddell said.

A strong, intelligent supporting cast featuring Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt (no this isn’t Hurt’s final film – he’s still got 5 coming out through 2017), Richard E. Grant, and Beth Grant hold their own, but this is really Portman’s piece. And she brings it all together with grace and poise. Jackie‘s not quite a 4, but nearly. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 which is meant to intrigue you and make you wonder if there might be something in this film for you.


January 2, 2017


Ava DuVernay‘s (Selma) Netflix original documentary, 13th dissects the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery except in cases of incarceration. 13th is a must-see for anyone interested in the conversation of race, equality, and social justice in the United States. DuVerney’s outstanding creation makes this difficult subject understandable and easy to digest. Lingering doubts about our country’s abuse of the criminal justice system disappear with this factual film. Takeaways: we need to spend money taking care of our citizens, not handing them over to corporations who profit from locking them up and keeping them locked up. It’s up to those of us who have never had to face this injustice to finally right this wrong. 13th brings a necessary conversation to the masses. 5 out of 5 for 13th.

Versailles: Season 1

December 30, 2016

versailles-s1We started out buying a few episodes of Versailles on Amazon Prime because I thought it was only a 4-part mini-series. Then when we realized it was a 10-part television series, we stopped watching, waiting for the DVDs to be released until the other week a friend at work told me it was streaming on Netflix. I tell this story to prove that even people who blog about television are confused over what’s streaming where. So back to Versailles (literally I wish). The series from Canada about the early reign of Louis XIV boasts high production values – gorgeous location shooting, lovely costumes, beautiful make-up and wigs for everyone! Work those wigs. Versailles screams high night-time soap opera with a dash of historical drama thrown in to keep you running to Google to figure out the accuracy of the show. Versailles is fun and showy and dark and moody. It’s an English-speaking show, so no subtitles required. 3.5 out of 5. Definitely worth exploring.

Turn: Season 2

December 17, 2016

turn-s2To every thing… sorry, bad joke. I watched a few episodes of Turn: Season 1 in 2015 and just couldn’t get into it. I tried watching Season 2 this week. Turn has a moderate History Channel vibe to it that makes me want to do a Kickstarter for their production budget. The acting is decent. The stories are actually interesting, especially when they meld real people like Benedict Arnold into the story. But there’s just no pull for me. I’m giving this season of Turn a 2.5 out of 5. Next.

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