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.

qFLIX Philadelphia 2018

March 8, 2018

Program line-up just announced for qFLIX Philadelphia 2018: The LGBTQ+ Film Festival on March 19-25, 2018.

Lots of hopeful films including many pansexual/fluid entries coming to the festival this year. Reel Charlie’s go-to list starts here:

HELLO AGAIN directed by Tom Gustafson
HIDDEN KISSES directed by Didier Bivel
A SKIN SO SOFT directed by Denis Côté
FOAM PARTY! directed by Roberto Pérez Toledo
BETWEEN THE SHADES directed by Jill Salvino
STILL WAITING IN THE WINGS directed by Q. Allan Brocka
THE FEELS directed by Jenée LaMarque
AFTER LOUIE directed by Director Vincent Gagliostro

See the complete program at qFLIX.

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.

Rita: Season 4

March 6, 2018

Season 4 of Reel Charlie’s second favorite (Borgen still #1) Danish series, Rita took a sharp right turn. Rita got a job in her old hometown, reacquainted herself with her high school best friend and contemplated setting down roots. With the exception of Hjørdis and Uffe, Season 4 leaves all of Rita’s kids, colleagues and fuck buddies behind.  But the biggest change comes in the form of time. The season travels back and forth between Rita’s teen years and present day. Tessa Hoder does an outstanding job as Rita in 1985. For me, parts of this worked and other parts didn’t. Certainly the change shook up the series. The producers took chances and that’s always to be commended. Personally I missed her kids, her love interests and her life back at her former school. Rita had no sex or love life in Season 4. The 8-episode arc spent most of the time watching her soul search attempting to find her place in the world. The big reveal in the seventh episode wasn’t much of a surprise to me. I guessed as much. It’s hard to imagine a singular event forever catapulting someone in a certain direction, but I have known people who experienced that in real life. Without giving away too much, I wanted more for Rita. A friend of mine who is a Young Adult novel guru often frets over the reality that sex for female characters, especially YA teen girls has to mean something – either love or repent. It frustrates her that YA female characters just can’t have sex as a part of their life experience and move on. I felt that way about Rita. Why couldn’t she just be sexually liberated? Why couldn’t she just be someone who doesn’t need a man. She likes to sleep with men, but she doesn’t need to be in love with one or take care of one. What’s so threatening about that? So I felt a little lost watching Season 4. I’m tempted to give it my odd “more than like it” score of 3.5, but Rita has meant so much to me I’ll leave it at 4 out of 5. I hope they do one more season so she can reconnect with her children and others from her former life. If not, it’s been an amazing ride.

The Shape of Water Wins Best Picture Oscar 2018

March 4, 2018

I don’t want to brag, oh hell yes I do. I called it! My favorite nominated film won Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars. Congrats to The Shape of Water.

That’s two years in a row now. Last year Moonlight. This year The Shape of Water.

2018 César Awards: ‘BPM’ Wins Six, Including Best Film

March 4, 2018

On Oscar day 2018, I want to honor a French film which didn’t make the cut. BPM just won six César Awards including Best Picture. Césars are the French Oscars. The Oscar submissions for Best Foreign Film come from each country. Only one nomination cam be made per country. France indeed did the right thing and sent BPM over as their selection. The Oscar voters chose to ignore BPM and nominated films from Chile, Hungary, Lebanon, Russia, and Sweden. Those are all great countries.

I haven’t seen BPM yet. I have the DVD pre-orded from Wolfe Video. It’s scheduled for release in the U.S. on Tuesday so it should be in my mailbox any day now. I rarely assume I will love a film after reading the hype, but I am sure I will love BPM.

Read more about the film’s César wins on Indiewire.

How to Watch Every Oscar-Nominated Short Film (InStyle)

March 3, 2018

With 59 films in the running for Oscar gold, you may feel too much pressure to watch one more full length film before tomorrow evening’s broadcast. But there’s always room for shorts. Short films nominees must be less than 40 minutes. Most of the time, they are under 20. Kudos to In Style for listing all the nominees in each of the three categories and where to stream them:

Animated Short Film

Dear Basketball
Where to Watch: SBNation, and Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Garden Party
Where to Watch: YouTube, and Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Negative Space
Where to Watch: YouTube, and Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Revolting Rhymes
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Live Action Short Film

DeKalb Elementary
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

The Eleven O’Clock
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

My Nephew Emmett
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

The Silent Child
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Watu Wote/All of Us
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Documentary Short Subject

Edith and Eddie
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Where to Watch: YouTube, and Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Knife Skills
Where to Watch: YouTube, and Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

Traffic Stop
Where to Watch: Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes

See the list at In Style.


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

Do the wrong thing: 90 years, 90 movies that should have been nominated for Best Picture (AV Club)

March 1, 2018

From AV Club,

When Moonlight pulled a big upset and won the Best Picture Oscar a year ago, it felt like a monumental occasion—and not just because of the snafu that resulted in a different film briefly enjoying the honor. Yes, the Academy bestowed best-movie-of-the-year status on an actual, legitimate contender for the best movie of the year. That hasn’t happened too often over the 90 years the organization has been handing out awards. In fact, the Oscars often don’t just whiff on what deserves to win; they also frequently fail to even nominate the best movies, leaving some essential classic in the making out of the running entirely.

With this year’s ceremony just days away, The A.V. Club has singled out 90 important, terrific, even canonical movies that weren’t nominated—one for every Best Picture lineup going back to the beginning.

Out of the 90 listed Reel Charlie loves,

The Lady Eve
Rear Window
All That Heaven Allows
Do The Right Thing
Boogie Nights
In The Mood For Love
Frances Ha

See the entire list over at AV Club.

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