Archive for the ‘Murder Mystery’ Category

Broadchurch: Season 3

December 7, 2017

My love of Broadchurch and has waxed and waned. I gave Season 1 a 5 out of 5. Then I gave Season 2 a 3.5 out of 5. Season 3 redeemed itself solving yet another crime and finally making peace with Danny’s murder from Season 1. David Tennant and Olivia Colman are back and in top form. Colman is a force to be reckoned with. I look forward to watching her career post-Broadchurch. This time, Season 3 investigates a rape. Because of the nature of the crime, the series focuses most of its attention on gender and a woman’s place in the world. There are lots to digest and consider. And in the middle of it all, Danny’s murder from Season 1 finally finds, if not some closure, a bit of peace for his parents and siblings. Jodie Whittaker (the new Doctor Who) and Andrew Buchan share outstanding acting moments as Danny’s estranged parents Beth and Mark Latimer. Heavy stuff. The beauty of the landscape helps temper the seriousness of this crime drama. I’m leaving Broadchurch with a 4 out of 5 for Season 3.

Read Reel Charlie’s review of Broadchurch: Season 1.
Read Reel Charlie’s review of Broadchurch: Season 2.

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Murder on the Orient Express (2010)

November 14, 2017

In anticipation of the new Branagh 2017 Murder on the Orient Express, I ordered the British television 2010 version for the library. I had a blast watching this adaptation. It stars David Suchet as Poirot and includes a strong supporting cast featuring Eileen Atkins, Jessica Chastain, Barbara Hershey, Hugh Bonneville, David Morrissey, Brian J. Smith, and Samuel West. Without even seeing the remake, I know it’s a simpler film than Branagh’s big budget release. As a result, the film relies on the talents of the director, writer, and cast. Murder on the Orient Express offers real comfort food whodunit excitement. 4 out of 5 for this Agatha Christie classic adaptation.

Lone Star

November 4, 2017

A classic independent film comes to Fairfield Public Library. Click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s updated review of Lone Star.

Series Novels That Would Make Great TV & Film Adaptations

October 23, 2017

I’ve read a number of series novels over the past few years I know would make great television. I got to thinking of that recently after hearing Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is being picked up by Netflix for at least a ten-part installment of more than likely one or all of the final three Tales novels since Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis are on board to reprise their Mary Ann and Anna roles respectively. Three of Richard Stephenson’s Donald Strachey Mysteries were adapted for HereTV about 10 years ago. And of course Barbara Wilson’s first Cassandra Reilly novel, Gaudi Afternoon turned into a Susan Seidelman spectacular romp through Barcelona. And we could sure use a sequel with an equally outstanding director and cast.

All of this got me thinking. If I had the power of the green light, which series would I produce? Here is my incomplete list of some of my literary favorites:

Michael Nava’s Henry Rios’ Mysteries’ produced perhaps the most sophisticated gay male sleuth ever. Henry’s actually a lawyer and a drunk and then in recovery. The seven books take us through the worse of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s to the final installment in 2001. Can’t say enough about this essential must-read series which would make for some outstanding television.

My second choice without a doubt goes to Greg Herren’s Scotty Bradley Mysteries. Herren’s lead character is adventurous, goofy, humpy, lives through Katrina in New Orleans, boasts a set of pot-smoking parents and not one but two emotionally monogamous boyfriends – a thrupple. Scotty is a former go-go boy who solves crimes with his retired FBI agent primary partner Frank and their mysterious international gun for hire third, Colin.

An even dozen novels comprise Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan Mysteries. Lippman’s books revolve around a former newspaper reporter who turns private eye. Many lists mention Tess Monaghan if you’re a fan of The Wire and crave more gritty Baltimore drama. Lippman delivers.

Years ago, I served grand jury duty in NYC. This was pre-smart phones, pre-ereaders. I found the first three Wraeththu books in one volume. Plopped the bible-sized book in my lap and proceeded to devour Storm Constantine’s magical world. Wraeththu are another species superior in many ways to humans with mostly male characteristics, but intersexed so they can reproduce. Fascinating reading especially in today’s world of transgender visibility. These books would make for a magically sexy adaptation. Think a Sense8 goes sci-fi pagan/wiccan sort of mystical reality.

If vampire movies ever come back in vogue again, and you know they will, Jourdan Lane’s Soul Mates series would make for some kick ass sexy gay male entertainment. Peter and Lucien would be the perfect other worldly follow-up to Queer as Folk‘s Justin and Brian.

Marshall Thorton’s Boystown series take place in 1980’s Chicago. The ten novels (as of 2017) are classic private eye with a twist. Nick Nowak is gay and unapologetic about it. He’s a man’s man character finding his way in a post-Stonewall world where his biological family has rejected him because of his sexuality. He is forced off the police force – a family business but refuses to leave Chicago. Nick becomes a private eye and solves cases like the best of them.

Jordan Castillo Price’s Mnevermind series follows Daniel Schroeder in the near future as he tinkers around as a memory specialist stalled in life until he meets the mysterious Elijah, a young man living on the spectrum. Outstanding romance future tech mash-up with great fleshed out characters. Price has an extremely popular 8-part PsyCop series, which I also enjoy but Mnevermind continues to be her series I return to with a smile.

‘Nathan Burgoine’s Triad Blood series involves “a vampire, wizard, and demon (who) form a bond in Ottawa, Canada that leaves them both a part of—and apart from—those in power in the supernatural world around them.” Burgoine’s addictive stories are begging to be adapted for the screen. Casting Anders the arrogant, sexy, demon would be the most fun.

So far I’ve only read the first book of Aleksandr Voinov’s Witches of London seriesLars which I absolutely adored. Voinov’s books are pagan romance stories which fascinate me to no end. “Lars Kendall is a solitary pagan on the Northern Path, loyal to the gods of the Norse pantheon.”
Rhys Turner hires Lars to renovate his house. Magic of all sorts ensue. Witches of London could easily be a very modern, sophisticated, more realistic Bewitched romance for the early 2020’s. Makes me imagine my own life taking off in an earth religion direction.

Also only read the first book of Charlie Cochet’s THIRDS series, a (so far) 10-part novel series based in the future where humans and therians live side-by-side. THIRDS would make an outstanding LGBTQ super hero futuristic action film franchise which could easily turn the tired Hollywood super hero trope on its head. Fun, action, and a bit of romance.

And finally I vote for making the graphic novel Wuvable Oaf into a feature film or a bizarre, niche television series. Everyone I know who reads this novel falls in love with its crazy cast of characters. “Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties and listens to a lot of Morrissey. The book follows Oaf’s search for love in the big city, especially his pursuit of Eiffel, the lead singer of the black metal/queercore/ progressive disco grindcore band Ejaculoid.”

I’m sure there’s more series out there. What would you like to see turned into a television show or film?

Tin Star

October 20, 2017

Amazon Prime airs the British-Canadian crime series, Tin Star featuring Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks. I love the play between the family members. The bad guys creep me out and not in a good way. Over the years I have enjoyed many inappropriate laughs from bad guys doing bad things ala Fargo. For some reason, the back and forth between good and evil in Tin Star doesn’t work for me. 2 out of 5. Yes, I stuck around for the big death. I still wasn’t convinced. Next.

The Night Of

August 25, 2017

Another great HBO limited series that deserves and looks as if it’s been set-up for a potential Season 2. The Night Of follows a college-aged Pakistani-American young man living in Queens played by the dreamy Brit Riz Ahmed through the thrills of a night out in Manhattan. As police procedurals tend to do, the night doesn’t go exactly as planned. Arrests happen. Jail time, a trial. I’m certainly not giving much away. John Turturro stars along with Ahmed in a gripping, by the book eight-part series. Really enjoyed this and hope there might be a second season. 4 out of 5 for The Night Of.

The Level

August 14, 2017

Tried watching The Level, a British crime drama featuring a flawed female detective. Great cast including Noel Clarke (Metrosexuality) and Robert James-Collier (Downton Abbey). In the end, I just couldn’t commit. The story didn’t seem particularly realistic to me. Too far-fetched that a cop would be at the scene of a crime, then be assigned to the case and the clock counts down to when she gets caught. She wasn’t a bad cop, so I suppose there is redemption somewhere. I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. 2 out of 5. Next.

Shock to the System

July 29, 2017

The second Donald Strachey murder mystery adaptation, Shock to the System is as my late friend Bruce Kingsley said to me on Facebook, “much better than the first.” Based on the Richard Stevenson detective series, Shock to the System is number two of four books made into television films for HereTV. Chad Allen plays Strachey perfectly. Sebastian Spence plays Timmy, Don’s romantic partner. They live in Albany where Donald solves crimes. There’s nothing earth-shattering about the series other than the persona of Strachey follows a quiet, masculine appearance which older viewers may find refreshing. I’m giving this one a 3 out of 5. Decent detective murder-mystery fun.

Oops, almost forgot to mention Morgan Fairfield has a small role in this.

Deep Water on Netflix

July 13, 2017

The outstanding Australian murder-mystery mini-series, Deep Water finally streams on Netflix. Add this one to your queue now. If you need more detail, click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s review from earlier this year.

Prime Suspect Tennison Season 1

July 12, 2017

The PBS DVDs always get mailed out to the library before the season is finished airing on television. Yea for me. I breezed through the entire season of Prime Suspect Tennison the prequel to Helen Mirren’s classic, award-winning seven-part detective series. In this incarnation, we find Jane Tennison at the very start of her career. I was so worried this wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. It did and more. I loved it. Young Jane played by Stefanie Martini steps into some enormous shoes embodying the character perfectly. By the second episode all thoughts of Mirren are out of mind. This is a retro 1973 brand-new Tennison. The good old boys don’t seem quite as harsh as mid-career. Of course that may have something to do with the fact that Jane is at the bottom of the rung making coffee and working dispatch. Other cast standouts include Sam Reid and Blake Harrison. The ground work gets laid for Jane’s idiosyncrasies and obsessions. Her work ethic appears to be from birth. She hits the ground running. Episode 5 explodes reminding the viewer this is British television. Anything’s possible. I loved Prime Suspect Tennison. 4 out of 5 for this welcome prequel.


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