Archive for the ‘Violent’ Category

Orange is the New Black: Season 5

June 15, 2017

Damn ladies. Orange is the New Black just keeps getting better and better. How is that even possible? Every season builds on the previous. Not a misstep in this season. Absolute amazing acting, directing, editing, and writing. Highlights include,

Natasha Lyonne as Nicky getting clean and reaching out
Uzo Aduba as Suzanne falling apart again and again (another Emmy?)
Danielle Brooks as Taystee negotiating the deal of the century
Taylor Schilling as Piper realizing her fate and future
Lea DeLaria as Boo proving butch girls look good doing romance
Jackie Cruz and Diane Guerrero as Flaca & Maritza proving the ridiculousness of our instant fame culture
Selenis Leyva as Gloria delivering a powerhouse performance and becoming my favorite character for S5
Taryn Manning as Tiffany (Pennsyltucky) navigating the complicated waters of rape culture, forgiveness, and desire
Adrienne Moore as Black Cindy full of comfort and relief in the final episode
Yael Stone as Lorna crazy as ever
Kate Mulgrew as Red full of revenge
Laura Prepon as Alex filled with PTSD and remorse  and just wanting to stay free (of drama and violence)
Kimiko Glenn as Brook walking the long road of grief
Brad William Henke as Piscatella leading with misdirected spite and evil in the face of homophobia
Elizabeth Rodriguez as Aleida figuring out how to be free
Dascha Polanco as Dayanara facing her consequences

I’m sure I missed someone. What a roller coaster ride this season was and what a cliff hanger. All bets are off that everyone will survive the final moments of the raid. It’s Netflix after all. Unbelievable. Thank you Jenji Kohan and crew for this gift. 5 out of 5.

Animal Kingdom: Season 1

June 7, 2017

I blew through five episodes of the American television series adaptation of the Australian film, Animal Kingdom based on a true crime family. Ellen Barkin executes a strong performance as the matriarch of a California crime family – four sons and a grandson. The testosterone spews everywhere in this household. Raw, hardcore, feral. These boys barely contain themselves enough to get the job done. Scott Speedman, Ben Robson, Jake Weary, and Shawn Hatosy deliver fine performances as the Cody brothers with Finn Cole entering the family as the youngest member now that his mother has OD’d. There’s definitely a pull with this series. It’s hypnotic, gritty, forbidden. It’s also homoerotic with all the guys hanging out shirtless around the pool half the time. You can’t help but keep watching. I made it through five episodes. There’s one awful homophobic bashing I got through early on, but another begins in episode five and I just couldn’t stomach it. Both make sense per the plot. Perhaps you may have a higher tolerance to violence. I simply could no longer watch. Animal Kingdom performs well. 3 out of 5 for me. Higher if you can stomach the violence.

Bloodline: Season 3

June 5, 2017

Saying goodbye to the Rayburns of Bloodline I felt sadness and relief. Sadness because I came to love several of the characters. Relief because I felt exhausted watching the siblings dig themselves deeper and deeper into their lies and deceit. So many unnecessary deaths. I still blame Danny who brought plague onto his family. This season in particular felt biblical. I was on the edge of my seat each episode wondering what might go wrong next and who might screw up the most. The final two episodes were a bit surreal, but I think it gave the fans what they needed – a final dose of Danny. Trying to side step any spoilers here. Sally drove me crazy, Kevin couldn’t get one thing right and Meg just fled. Poor John left to clean up everyone’s mess. All in all I loved Bloodline. It was a fun romp in the Florida Keys through the eyes of a very damaged family. 4 out of 5.

The Wire turns 15

June 4, 2017

Happy 15th to The Wire which premiered on HBO June 2, 2002. Congrats to creator David Simon and the fantastic crew and actors who created legendary characters Bunk, McNulty, Kima, Bubbles, Lester, Stringer, Avon, Ziggy, Prop Joe, Omar (sigh), Bunny, Stanfield (shudder), Clay Davis (shiiittt), and so many others. If you’ve been meaning to find out what all the buzz is about, now is the time. If you haven’t visited Baltimore recently, revisit The Wire which continues to be one of the best television shows ever created in America. The Wire streams on HBO Now and Amazon Prime.

Reel Charlie reviews:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5

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.

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