Archive for the ‘Streaming’ Category

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1

March 18, 2018

Released this week on disk, Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood‘s book, The Handmaid’s Tale exceeds all expectations. Why? Well first there’s the obvious: the production value swings off the charts – writing, directing, acting, costumes, set design, cinematography all outstanding. The tenor of the production brought literal chills to my body. By episode three I was curled up in a ball on the sofa. The Handmaid’s Tale might possibly be the first excellent television series I don’t suggest binging on. Let the terror settle in a bit similar to how Hulu released it – one episode per week. But the real reason I felt wrecked to my core was that this 1985 Sci-Fi novel now reads as a warning to our potential future. And not something in the distant future we need to pay heed. Instead it feels very much like the possibility of what might happen to our country if Trump walks away from the Presidency for even more greed and power leaving the executive branch shattered and ripe for Pence and his insane far-right christian cronies to take over the country once and for all declaring martial law on all of our freedoms. And by all I mean every woman, all men who don’t follow strict heteronormative behavior, people of color, the poor and disenfranchised and my own personal group – LGBTQ folk. So the creators at Hulu have done their job well scaring the shit out of me and making The Handmaid’s Tale a call to arms. Each of us is required to do what we can to keep these lunatics not only at bay, but to bury this hatred for diversity and freedom once and for all. Love truly must win in all its beautiful colors and permutations.

Shout out to a crazy great cast including Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, Amanda Brugel, Joseph Fiennes, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Ann Dowd (shudder), and Alexis Bledel (shattering her Rory Gilmore curse forever). Words cannot describe how visceral my reaction to The Handmaid’s Tale has been. It deserves all the praise your friends have doled out, it deserves all the awards, it’s deserves attention and it deserves to be an artistic warning to every decent human being to do everything in their power to crush this hatred and darkness in humanity once and for all. 5 out of 5.


Reel Charlie’s Kanopy LGBTQ Favorites

March 17, 2018

Does your public library have Kanopy? Kanopy is an outstanding streaming service available free to card holders. If your town doesn’t have Kanopy, ask your local library to consider acquiring it. Kanopy serves up the best of classic, indie, documentary, shorts, and foreign films. Outstanding catalog. Some of Reel Charlie’s favorite LGBTQ films can be found on Kanopy including (links to Reel Charlie review),

Feature Films:
God’s Own Country

The Watermelon Woman
Parting Glances
Laurence Anyways
Come Undone
Five Dances
Reaching for the Moon
Walk on Water 

Before Stonewall
After Stonewall
The Harvey Milk Story
Lavender Limelight: Lesbians in Film
Brother Outsider
We Were Here
Making the Boys
To Be Takei
Fish Out of Water
Out Late

Films I’m looking forward to seeing for the first time:
Saturday Church
Wine Women and Friends
Escape to Life: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story
The Battle of amfAR: The Quest for an AIDS Cure
3 Short Films by Marlon T. Riggs
Eye on the Guy – Alan B. Stone and the Age of Beefcake
This is Not an AIDS Advertisement
Tricia’s Wedding
A Simple Matter of Justice
Kate Bornstein is a Queer and Pleasant Danger


March 14, 2018

How do you take a British mystery show starring a group of great actors such as Michael Kitchen, Sophie Okonedo, and Phyllis Logan and make it crappy? By turning it into a B-movie horror show the moment the tension begins. Such is the fate of Alibi, a British series on Acorn TV available through your public library’s hoopla platform. I was hoping for fun, for suspense. Instead I was gifted with schlock. What a waste of talent. 1 out of 5. Next.

Nailed It!

March 13, 2018

Netflix new food contest show, Nailed It! showed so much promise in theory thanks to the inclusion of NYC chocolatier Jacques Torres. Unfortunately the fun of this show – taking regular people and making them attempt to recreate confection masterpieces loses its gleam due to tacky stunts from the show’s host Nicole Byer. To her credit, I’m sure she’s just following what the producers tell her to do. But the over-the-top, loud-mouthed antics rubbed me the wrong way. Some finesse would have gone a long way. I realize Nailed It! is a comedy show about the failures of baking. Turning down the LOL track would have helped the series succeed. 1 out of 5. Next.

Versailles: Season 2

March 12, 2018

I made it through the first two episodes of Versailles: Season 2, the Canadian english language series based on the reign of Louis XIV. The first season was fun and soapy. I gave it a 3.5 out of 5. This second season simply didn’t hold my attention. Even the king’s gay brother, Philippe I, Duke of Orléans couldn’t make me continue with the series. For viewers who like their historical costume drama heavy on the soap and light on the serious, Versailles might be just right. I’m saying goodbye. It was fun while it lasted. 3 out of 5.

Mozart in the Jungle: Season 4

March 11, 2018

Breezed through the 10 half-hour episodes of Mozart in the Jungle: Season 4. It started out quiet, not sure where it was headed. I’m glad I stuck around because once they got to Japan, everything fell into place. Lots of great moments as Lola Kirke’s Hailey continues to discover herself, Rodrigo continues to unravel, and Gloria and Thomas find their footing,  expertly walking the line between complicated supporting character and punch line. This was the season John Cameron Mitchell guest starred as an annoying choreographer. He nailed that role. It was also the season the writers made it clear how difficult it is for women to be conductors. The producers balanced the gender gap between writers and directors which always makes me feel better about supporting a project. My only issue with the writing is poor Cynthia. Saffron Burrows has second billing in the credits but the writers seem unsure what to do with her character. I have a hard time understanding that. To me, Cynthia has always been fascinating and could have her own show. I give Mozart in the Jungle a 3.5 and leave it at that.

Babylon Berlin: Season 1

March 10, 2018

Season 1 of the Netflix imported German historical drama, Babylon Berlin landed this month in the U.S. making it the most expensive television series ever produced outside the United States. Created by Henk Handloegten, Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run, The Princess and the Warrior), and Achim von Borries, is it worth the cost? You bet. The series weaves a complicated and compelling story based on novels by Volker Kutscher. Taking place in 1929 during the Weimar Republic, Babylon Berlin follows police inspector Gereon Rath played by Volker Bruch, who has been transferred from the city of Cologne to Berlin, and aspiring police inspector Charlotte Ritter played by Liv Lisa Fries. Both actors embody their characters seamlessly and carry the show effortlessly. Babylon Berlin explores the intersection of traditional Weimar Germany with the rise of frustrated and dangerous voices including communists and Nazis. The take-away every other country in the world should learn from Germany is that the art coming out of this modern-day European power never downplays their past. Germans own their atrocities and don’t ever want to repeat them. Rath and Ritter finds themselves uncovering corruption within their own police force, probing for poisonous gas and gold in train yards, searching for murdered and missing communists, enjoying moments of bliss in nightclubs, and managing complicated family relations. Gereon Rath fills the role as outsider, unraveling the mystery along with the audience. He suffers silently from PTSD due to World War I trauma. Charlotte Ritter unravels the complicated journey a woman had to go to through in order to free herself from poverty and make a place in the world. Personally, Charlotte’s story ruled the series. Babylon Berlin‘s story and characters span every aspect of 1929 German society. Where it falters stems from too much money which makes one scene in particular way too Hollywood action film for my taste. But I can certainly forgive the transgression. I found the story captivating and confusing in the best of ways. Babylon Berlin made me think as well as enjoy – my favorite way to watch television. 4 out of 5 for this Netflix giant.

Note: Netflix presents the 16 episode arc as Season 1. When originally released in Germany, the 16 episodes were split into two seasons. So right now, we are wondering whether Netflix will produce a third season for Germany which would be our Season 2. Stay tuned.

Obama in Talks to Provide Shows for Netflix (NY Times)

March 9, 2018

Obama and chill: pretty cool news from The New York Times and Netflix,

Former President Barack Obama is in advanced negotiations with Netflix to produce a series of high-profile shows that will provide him a global platform after his departure from the White House, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Under terms of a proposed deal, which is not yet final, Netflix would pay Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, for exclusive content that would be available only on the streaming service, which has nearly 118 million subscribers around the world. The number of episodes and the formats for the shows have not been decided.

Mr. Obama does not intend to use his Netflix shows to directly respond to President Trump or conservative critics, according to people familiar with discussions about the programming. They said the Obamas had talked about producing shows that highlight inspirational stories.

Read the full article at The New York Times.

Saying Goodbye to Netflix DVD

March 2, 2018

Last night I decided to end my Netflix DVD plan. Yes, I am still getting Netflix DVDs in the mail. Until about a year ago, Netflix offered a great selection of physical format not available streaming. So I would watch a few films on DVD from Netflix, watch some streaming, watch some films from the library and purchase a few must-haves for my personal collection. Then Netflix cut way back on their physical product. I hung in there longer than most I suppose. I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds. But my long DVD queue (over 200 at the height of Netflix DVD reign) has shrunk to next to nothing – 26 titles. You can see them below.

Newly released films I can get from the library since I’m the one ordering them. I have Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime. I watch a lot of television, so I’ve really got more than enough choices. But I speak to friends often about the huge holes left from only using the big streamers. Access to smaller gems just doesn’t seem to happen as much as I’d hope. Which is why I still splurge on some Blu-ray and DVD to purchase when I know a film isn’t going to be available any time soon, if ever. Or I just want to support the filmmaker and have access to the film when I want it.

Still there’s an empty feeling of melancholy as I let go of yet another way for me to access media. I love the streamers. No doubt they’ve changed our lives. But so much of what they offer is just good enough rather than knock-me-off-my-seat entertainment. And that makes me sad.

Numbers nerds may be interested to know I watched 1,165 films on DVD through Netflix since February 15. 2007. Eleven years.

My final Netflix queue 2018:
Bonnie and Clyde
Doctor Zhivago
The Bishop’s Wife
My Reputation
The Big Clock
Sunday Bloody Sunday
The Fog
When Night Is Falling
Ball of Fire
Born Yesterday
Green for Danger
The Singing Detective: Disc 1
Above Suspicion: Set 1: Disc 1
Angels in America: Disc 1
Angels in America: Disc 2
The Mothman Prophecies
Driving Lessons
The Laramie Project
Sunday Morning Shootout: The Best of War Requiem
Beach Café

How to watch the Oscars if you don’t have cable (CNET)

February 26, 2018

This Sunday, March 4, 2018 ABC hosts the Academy Awards live. Cord Cutters might be wondering the best way to stream the awards show without cable TV. ABC is not making it easy. At least we now know what the A in ABC stands for.

You can stream via the ABC app, but only if you have a TV provider (cable or satellite subscription) and only in certain large markets. PlayStation Vue and Sling TV (Orange) offer ABC on their cable replacement service, but that also requires a monthly subscription.

You can hook up an antenna.

That’s it. I don’t get it. We would watch the exact same commercials if you streamed it through the ABC app. If it’s legal to broadcast it free over the airwaves, why not broadcast it free over WiFi?

Read the full article on CNET.

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