Archive for the ‘Must-see’ Category

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 1

December 9, 2017

Season 1 of the Amazon Prime exclusive, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel succeeded my wildest expectations after loving the pilot during Amazon’s Pilot season earlier this year. Gilmore Girls creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino work their magic once again, this time in 1950’s New York City. Miriam “Midge” Maisel falls into stand-up comedy after a nasty break-up with her husband. Midge spent her young life being a daughter, wife, and mother. Now she’s back home living with her parents, two kids in tow while she figures out how to make money and how to break into show business. I love, love, love this series. It’s got everything: tight delivery, outstanding cast including Rachel Brosnahan as Midge (a star is born), Alex Borstein as Suzie, Midge’s lesbian manager, Marin Hinkle incredibly cast and nailing her role as Midge’s Mom, Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s dry sense of humor Dad, and Luke Kirby occasionally appearing as Lenny Bruce. The sets, costumes, design – all outstanding. The drama comedy balance perfect. I know I’m ruining it but I can’t help it. I love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Midge teaches us what it means to be a modern woman, figuring out how to break the chains of patriarchy while holding on to the parts of her life that work. The show never knocks you over the head. It teaches through the drama of the every day story. You’ll be hooked on Midge and her journey from the moment you begin. And did I say the series is so much fun? Laugh out loud moments, period songs inserted at just the right moment. 5 out of 5 for the Sherman-Palladino’s new creation. Thank you Amazon.

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L.A. Law: Season 3

November 27, 2017

I’m maxed out on L.A. Law seasons here in the States. The Region 1 DVDs only go as far as Season 3 which I just finished. Damn. I guess this is the end of the road for me – for now. I sure wish someone would stream all eight seasons. I know it changed a lot over the years. After Susan Dey left, I stopped watching. But I’d love to see where it goes and if I could stay with it. Meanwhile, Season 3 continued the excellence of the first two seasons. Great stories, Lots of humor. And the women really shine in this series. Very balanced characters gender-wise. Probably a big deal back in the 80’s to execute that. Even the Roxanne character proves not everyone who works for a law firm manages their money or even makes enough in the first place. Mickey and Grace are on the rocks, Ann and Stuart try to make a baby, Abby ventures out on her own, Jonathan finds his footing, and Victor continues to work strong. Season 3 truly features the classic cast. Still holds up after more than 30 years. 5 out of 5 for this television legal drama that not only paved the way for many other shows like it, but inspired many people to become lawyers.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

November 23, 2017

I certainly have many things to be thankful for this year – great friends, an amazing family, a supportive and loving non-partner/partner (my bex, Dennis), a fantastic job in a career that helps the disenfranchised and people at risk, wonderful co-workers, a healthy body that responds to exercise, doctors and medical staff who keep me humming after all these post AIDS crisis years, and a brand-new 7 year-old puppy girl who will come live with us on Saturday.

But this year has not been without struggle. Now more than ever it’s important I keep myself glass half full. There is so much to do if we are to make this country and our world a reflection of decency, kindness, love and inclusion.

Today is U.S. Thanksgiving. Many of you will be home with family and friends. I wish you a calm, happy, foodie day. And afterwards, if you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving movie, consider What’s Cooking. It’s very American and very ethnic. Which is very American. Now more than ever.

Read Reel Charlie’s review of the perfect Thanksgiving film: What’s Cooking.
What’s Cooking is currently streaming on Amazon with a Tribeca Shortlist subscription. Or rent it digitally for $3 from Amazon, Apple, or Vudu. Or get the DVD from Netflix or your library.

The Best Years of Our Lives (Blu-ray)

November 17, 2017

Revisiting this classic brings joyful tears to my eyes each time I watch. Click on the image below for an updated review of William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives.

Donnie Darko (take much more than 2)

November 2, 2017

The perfect indie film, Donnie Darko comes to Netflix.

Get Out (Blu-ray)

October 30, 2017

Jordan Peele’s created a pretty remarkable, smart, sly, genre-busting film in Get Out. Peele follows the best horror film formula – others might call it a worn out trope, (think Halloween, Rosemary’s Baby) mashing it up with an infusion  on race in America. Get Out ends up being funny, scary, and a thinking person’s film. But honestly, you can sit back, grab some popcorn and laugh and scream and think about the heavier topics the next day. Get Out serves as conversation starter for how we continue to view race relations between blacks and whites. Get Out also serves as deliciously good entertainment. Hat tip to my niece Lauren for telling me to watch this way back in February when it hit the theaters. Better late than never. Turns out this is a perfect film for Halloween weekend. 4 out of 5 for Get Out.

If We Took a Holiday (Short)

October 3, 2017

Oh my lord. I love Glenn Gaylord (Eating Out, I Do). Can’t believe I took this much time to see his short film, If We Took a Holiday. From YouTube,

If We Took a Holiday tells the story of a struggling L.A. actress (Nadya Ginsburg) who agrees to impersonate Madonna all day long as a birthday present for her recently dumped gay best friend (Dennis Hensley.) Shenanigans and life lessons ensue. The film is produced and written by Glenn Gaylord, Nadya Ginsburg and Dennis Hensley and directed by Glenn Gaylord.

This was so much fun! Nadya Ginsburg is a genius impersonator and Dennis Hensley was perfect as her gay best friend recovering from a break-up. Birthday celebrations abound. The nearly 18 minutes flew by. I laughed, I felt all gooey inside. Really outstanding. Yea! 5 out of 5.

Watch If We Took a Holiday on YouTube.

 

Transparent: Season 4

October 1, 2017

“Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you and anoint you…”

Who knew the Pfeffermans were as obsessed with Jesus Christ Superstar as I was when I was a little boy. And they remember the words to the songs after all these years. Even Maura’s sister! Such a magnificent and glorious television series Transparent continues to be. Is this the most loving, dysfunctional family you’ve ever met? Does yours rival them? Mine sure doesn’t. Which is probably why I love watching them tick. This season the family connects with their spiritual and social roots on a trip to Israel. Every one comes together and then proceeds to find their own corner and take some time out to contemplate life: Josh at meetings, Sarah with Len, Ali at the farm, and Maura and Shelly meditating in the midst of the chaos. The only logical family member of Maura’s who gets any back story time this season is the luminous Davina, my favorite non-Pfefferman. We dig deeper into Davina’s past to find her vulnerabilities. I love Davina even more after this season. She is the heart, soul, and calm of the show. Alexandra Billings brings nuance and wisdom to the role. Can’t say enough how much I adore Transparent. 5 out of 5 for this family ensemble.

How to be a Slut in America – Part 1

September 19, 2017

Filmmaker Brian Jordan Alvarez is creating some of the most interesting episodic media from a gay man’s perspective. First there was The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, a preposterous and effervescent look at 20-something life in L.A. Alvarez followed that up creating Stupid Idiots with writing partner Stephanie Koenig. Now he showcases a more serious side with Part 1 of How to be a Slut in America. This is less silly, more honest portrayal of a young man figuring out how he wants to live out his romantic and sexual life. Brian Jordan Alvarez continues to put himself out there and rewards us with outstanding content. 4 out of 5.

Watch How to be a Slut in America, Part 1 on YouTube. (NSFW)

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.


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