Archive for the ‘Violent’ Category

Orange is the New Black | Season 5 Official Trailer (YouTube)

May 11, 2017

I’m taking my time absorbing the second season of Sense8 slowly and methodically. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer for Season 5 of Orange is the New Black.

Prisoners of War: Season 1

April 22, 2017

Watched the first few episodes of the excellent Israeli series, Prisoners of War which Homeland is based on. Prisoners of War was a completely different show. First there’s no Carrie Mathison character. Second the action takes place inside the minds of the characters. The stories revolve around two former Israeli POWs reliving the horrors of their torture and their families readjusting to their appearance after 17 years in captivity. A fairly simple series with excellent writing and many profound moments. I stopped watching because the flashback torture sequences were too much for me to stomach. Definitely worth investing time into even with the violence. 4 out of 5.

O.J.: Made in America

March 5, 2017

oj-made-in-americaAfter winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, I decided to give O.J.: Made in America a shot. At nine hours, it’s definitely a commitment. But I figured if it felt too long, I could always bail. It’s absolutely worth the investment. The details in this mini-series highlight so many issues in our culture: race, race relations, inequality, injustice, urban life, poverty, fame, wealth, power, money, ego, and gender. I’m sure I’ve missed a few. O.J. symbolizes so many things about our culture from the late 60’s to present. What is good – being able to transcend class and race and be rewarded for excellence. And what is bad – wealth and fame allows people to live by a different set of rules. In the end, O.J.: Made in America leaves the viewer with a lot to digest. The trifecta of documentaries on the African-American experience out this year: O.J.: Made in America, 13th, and I Am Not Your Negro deserve not only your attention, but an on-going discussion and to-do list until we rectify and rid ourselves of issues stemming from race in America. 5 out of 5. A must-see.

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.

Doctor Strange

February 28, 2017

doctor-strangeNot Mister Strange, Not Mister Doctor. It’s Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch journey quests his way into Marvel’s anti-hero Stephen Strange. I realize time and time again, I am not the target audience for these films. But I also realize that eventually these kinds of films have to reach out to broader audiences, so I hope my criticisms are constructive and not simply dismissive. I do realize there are a mountain of movie goers who are ready to swallow these stories as is. But here I go. I love the fact that there’s a spirituality to this film – something mystical. I’ve been waiting for special effects to explore these themes. That said, it doesn’t do any good to mention Chakras when the default for films like Doctor Strange continue to be battles between good and evil where you can’t decipher who is good and who is evil since everyone’s blowing each other up. Isn’t there room in this world for huge special effects films that don’t unravel into horrific violence? And apart from being horrific, the repetitive violence ends up being boring. There must be other ways to use this technology. Other stories to tell. So I grew restless with Doctor Strange. The special effects are gorgeous and almost worth sitting through the film until the bloodshed and battles commence. From that moment on I could only think of one thing: 2 out of 5. Next.

King Cobra

February 23, 2017

king-cobraIt doesn’t get more sleazy than an amateur porn producer getting murdered by two rival wannabees who spend their days hustling in both senses of the term. Who else would dramatize this true life story except our own gay male wannabee James Franco. And so we have the birth of King Cobra. The film uses Lifetime movie melodrama to tell the strange but true story of Stephen (based on Bryan Kocis), a frustrated admirer of young men who dabbles in amateur porn in the 2000’s creating a cottage industry and discovering gay porn sensation Brent Corrigan. A year after their initial collaboration (I’m using the film’s story, not the real story), Corrigan leaves Stephen to venture out on his own and become the next big gay male porn star. But there’s a hitch. Stephen owns “Brent Corrigan” the name. Enter Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes two sleazy male escorts who see Corrigan as a way to make their fledgling amateur porn company worth millions. Only one problem. How do they get around the rights to the name? Hmmm, maybe they just need to get rid of Stephen. So goes the back stabbing story that made headlines around the country in 2007. Franco plays Kerekes, Disney star Garrett Clayton plays Corrigan, Christian Slater plays Stephen, and Keegan Allen plays Cuadra. The film was fun if not accurate. Don’t expect Shakespeare, but it’s certainly entertaining in the vein of Boogie Nights. 3.5 out of 5.

Orange is the New Black: Season 5 (teaser trailer)

February 11, 2017

Fifteen seconds of teasing from Litchfield Prison and Season 5 of the luscious Orange is the New Black. Release date: June 9, 2017. Watch the teaser on YouTube.

Fargo: Season 2 (take 2)

February 3, 2017

What a masterpiece of television Fargo: Season 2 turned out to be. Read Reel Charlie’s original review with update by clicking on the image below:

fargo s2

Violence on Television

February 1, 2017


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about violence on television. Does it affect us? Does it numb us in our daily lives? Does it normalize violence in real-time? I feel I’m still pretty sensitive to it. But I’ve loved The Walking Dead, Fargo, Broadchurch, Happy Valley, and many other shows with violence. When does violence crossover from necessary to gratuitous? I’m sure there are mountains of research out in the world. But I’m more interested in my personal exposure and feelings. Has it changed the way I view our world?

What about you? Can you answer any of these questions? Do you think it’s just fiction and doesn’t matter? Do you worry about where our society is heading?


Homeland: Season 5

January 29, 2017

homeland-s5Spoiler alerts: I watched the first four episodes of Homeland: Season 5. I love the new focus on Berlin. I love the international cast. The sad part of this review can easily be illustrated from ratings of past seasons:

Season 1: 5 out of 5
Season 2: never rated (not sure how that happened?)
Season 3: 4 out of 5
Season 4: 3 out of 5 – “Not sure if I will continue watching.”

Season 5 bored me – characters and plots bored me. Obvious stories: Carrie talks about being nine months sober… Carrie starts drinking. Action goes from zero to 60 without any real explanation other that a tortured man mentions “the female CIA agent,” as if there is only one. The problem with many American television series is they don’t know when to end. My feeling is Homeland should have stopped when they killed Brody. 2 out of 5 for this once beloved show.

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