Archive for the ‘Suspense’ 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.


TCM Big Screen Classics Presents “Vertigo”: A Special 60th Anniversary Event (Fathom Events)

March 7, 2018

Vertigo comes to the big screen! From Fathom Events,

Considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest cinematic achievements, Vertigo is a dreamlike thriller from the Master of Suspense. Set in San Francisco, the film creates a dizzying web of mistaken identity, passion and murder after an acrophobic detective (James Stewart) rescues a mysterious blonde (Kim Novak) from the bay and must unravel the secrets of the past to find the key to his future.

This 60th Anniversary event includes exclusive insight from TCM host Eddie Muller.

Click on the image below and find out where the closest theater is in your area showing this Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece.

Travelers: Season 2

January 8, 2018

Netflix continues importing the Canadian Sci-Fi comfort food show, Travelers. And boy am I happy. Season 2 finds the five travelers from the future digging deeper into their host bodies’ lives. More than one mistake is made, but of course these are humans from a world ruled by AI, so it’s almost encouraged they screw up. I love the interplay between the team. Eric McCormack holds his own as star and producer. Just as strong are his team, MacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, and Patrick Gilmore who plays non-traveler David. Travelers proves to be the perfect winter comfort food show. Especially if you’re looking for low-key Sci-Fi with little CGI. Travelers is definitely more about the human experience. I’m up-ing my rating to a 4 out of 5. Would definitely watch this again.

Fargo: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2

December 17, 2017

I’m not sure what precisely wore me down about Season 3 of the television series, Fargo. In the end, I think I got tired of the gratuitous hipster violence. It managed to work for the first two seasons. But I just couldn’t stomach it nor could I get into the story for season 3. Not even with two freakish Ewan McGregors battling it out with Midwest American accents. Plus there’s all the TMZ drama of McGregor and his co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead not just hooking up, but he left his wife of 22 years to be with her. Damn. Still not enough to get me to keep watching. Actually Winstead’s character worked my last nerve. So goodbye Fargo. It was great fun while it lasted. Season 3 gets a 2 out of 5. Next.


December 3, 2017

Suspect: Cher, Dennis Quaid, the 80’s. What’s not to love about this minor Cher film co-starring the adorable if not one-dimensional Dennis Quaid? She’s an assistant D.A. in Washington DC. He’s a lobbyist for the dairy industry. Sexy yet? It’s Cher and Dennis Quaid. The plot is irrelevant. I’ve always liked this film. Probably a bit more than it deserves. It’s got 80’s written all over it. Still it’s Cher. And Dennis Quaid is the only actor who takes off their shirt during the film. Someone was paying attention. There’s courtroom suspense, there’s Capital Hill drama. There’s a happy ending. Some of you might want to give Suspect a 3. I give it a 4. It’s Cher for chrissakes. Can I hear a hoah! 4 out of 5 for Suspect.

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.

Serial: Season 1

November 7, 2017

I’m coming very late to the Serial party. A friend recommended this podcast three years ago when it premiered as an off-shoot of This American Life. Sarah Koenig along with her producers and staff journal through a year of investigating a crime committed 15 years ago. From Serial,

A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

I was captivated by the series from the start. Organized, accessible and fascinating especially for lovers of murder mysteries and true crime. The final few episodes dragged a bit. 12 episodes in all, Serial could have used more editing. Still, the story is fascinating. Does justice prevail? 3.5 out of 5.

War for the Planet of the Apes

October 29, 2017

Watched much more of this third film in the latest Apes franchise than I honestly needed to. War for the Planet of the Apes presents predictable, formulaic, and just plain boring. The CGI and location shots are breathtaking. Combine those with a kick-ass screenplay and you’d have cinematic gold. Meanwhile War is simply more of what makes these franchises profitable – predictability within the framework of safety. Plus there’s a creepy subplot involving a young white girl who helps save the apes. White people always save the day. Not particularly inventive for those of us craving better stories. 2 out of 5. Next.

Halloween Favorite Films and Television 2017

October 27, 2017

Twas the weekend before Halloween, and all through the blog.

Each year I repost my favorite spooky reviews: films and shows worth watching during Samhain season. Blessed be and trick or treat.

From the archives,

American Horror Story – first couple seasons are the best
The Bat – give Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead some sugar
Black Mirror – get your Sci-Fi, near future tech savvy freak show on
The Cabin in the Woods – new-ish camp classic
The Conjuring – Connecticut ghosts!
Halloween – the original
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special – can it possibly get any more camp than this?
Paranorman – genius animated film with zombies and witches centering around bullying!
Les Revenants (The Returned) – amazing two season French television ghost story.
Rosemary’s Baby – what’s not to love about a nice NYC couple living next door to a coven of witches?
The Shining – the original
True Blood – Alan Ball’s adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris

Reel Charlie spooktacular categories to peruse:
Directors – Alfred Hitchcock

Mindhunter: Season 1

October 24, 2017

I loved Mindhunter. Nothing more perfect for me than a thriller focusing more on the psychology behind crime rather than the gore. Jonathan Groff (Looking) stars as a young FBI agent who pushes to create a scientific behavioral unit at Langley in the late 1970’s before the word serial killer was even thought of and definitely at the end of the Hoover era. Featuring a strong supporting cast including Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, and Anna Torv, Mindhunter approaches murder and mayhem in a quiet, methodical way. Yet each of the main characters sacrifices something great from their personal life for the opportunity to create careers and change the way the world looks into the minds of killers. 4 out of 5.

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