New Series Trailers: Turn Up Charlie, Delhi Crime, & Ramy

Turn Up Charlie (Netflix) – This show is now streaming!

This show stars British actor Idris Elba; he worked as a DJ in London & NYC for years in his 20s & 30s.

Delhi Crime (Netflix): March 22nd

NYC-based writer/media critic Aseem Chhabra (who I’ve been following since 2005) posted re: this show on IG. He “loved the first two episodes,” which were directed by his Canadian friend (Richie Mehta). The cast includes Rasika Dugal (Bombay Talkies) and Shefali Shah (who some of you will recognize from her memorable co-starring role in Monsoon Wedding). The show focuses on the Nirbhaya rape case of Jyoti Singh. I’m guessing that most of the actors in this show are theater veterans.

Ramy (Hulu): April 19th

You may have seen Ramy Youssef’s stand-up before. In his 1st series, he plays a young man (NOT unlike himself) who is a first generation Egyptian-American exploring the challenges of being a Muslim in today’s world. His mother is played by internationally-acclaimed Israeli Arab actress, Hiam Abbass (The Visitor; Blade Runner 2049). Mo Amer (another stand-up comic) who is a Palestinian-American/refugee is part of the cast; he has a Netflix special (The Vagabond) that is funny and educational. Dave Merheje, a Canadian-Lebanese stand-up featured in Comedians of the World (Netflix), also has a role; he just won a Juno award this week. Indian-American actress Poorna Jagannathan (The Night Of; Gypsy) is also listed in IMDB for 3 eps; she is a friend of one of my writer friends (from my NYC days).

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A Few Thoughts on Kong: Skull Island, Gifted, & Get Out (SPOILER-FREE)

Kong: Skull Island

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I was surprised by HOW MUCH I enjoyed this action/special effects movie! I saw it (in IMAX 3D) at a free pre-screening last WED. You will recognize some of the actors (Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly and Toby Kebbell), BUT there are also newcomers. Unlike MOST action films, each minor character gets a moment (or two) to reveal their personality. As for Kong- he’s a BIG creature who is considered “king” of Skull Island (somewhere in the South Seas). However, there are MANY other creatures on the island, BUT I don’t want to give much away. Also, there are SOME twists that you wouldn’t necessarily expect (in this genre). If you want 2 hours of escapist fun, then definitely go check this out!   

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I saw this TERRIFIC drama starring Chris Evans (who I’d never seen before) and McKenna Grace (the child actor) last THURS (free screening). The acting is solid, the writing is smart (and sometimes funny), and the themes are universal. (You can see this film w/ the entire family!) The film centers on a single man, Frank (Evans) raising his 7 y.o. niece, Mary (Grace) in small-town Southern Florida. Their neighbor, Roberta (recent Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer), helps take care of Mary on the weekends; they all share a special bond. Frank has homeschooled Mary, BUT then decides that she needs to be w/ kids her own age. However, Mary is NO ordinary 1st grader- she’s a math prodigy (like her deceased mom). Frank wants Mary to have a normal life (friends, sports, extracurricular activities); his sister missed out on all that b/c she was mostly focused on solving one math problem.  In time, Grandmother Evelyn (British actress Lindsay Duncan), arrives from Boston to seek sole custody of Mary. There is also a nice subplot (romance) in the story which is natural and believable. I wanted to see a BIT more of Roberta’s character (b/c Spencer is such a fine actor).

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I never thought this movie would get made. Honestly! I have been on television for years and I still didn’t feel like this movie was possible.-Jordan Peele, director

I saw this film (directed by Jordan Peele) this afternoon w/ 3 of my gal pals; we ALL liked it!  The theater was packed, esp. w/ viewers in their teens and 20s. This is currently the top grossing movie at the box office. It REALLY makes you think, so be ready for some discussion after it ends. It’s NOT a typical horror genre movie- it’s more of a thriller. 

The film hits you with the scary at choice moments, which is truly some unsettling and blends it with the humor. A running joke that should’ve got more air time was the gaffe about Obama, where the father says, “I would’ve voted for a third term for Obama if I could.” Timely, if anything.  -Excerpt from okayplayer.com

The premise comes from Peele’s own life; he was once dating a young woman who didn’t tell her parents he was a black before introducing him to her (white) parents. (Peele is now married to comedian Chelsea Peretti, one of the ensemble cast on Brooklyn Nine-Nine). The film stars Daniel Kaluuya (a British actor on Season 1 of Black Mirror) and Allison Williams (Girls) as an interracial couple visiting the home (more of an estate) of the her parents (played by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford) together for the first time. Chris (Kaluuya) is a a photographer who has a reserved personality; Rose is more talkative and assertive. 

The Crown (Netflix): Coming NOV 4th

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Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) wearing her famous coronation jewels , sash, and gown.

The Crown focuses on Queen Elizabeth II as a 25-year-old newlywed faced with the daunting prospect of leading the world’s most famous monarchy while forging a relationship with legendary Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. The British Empire is in decline, the political world is in disarray, and a young woman takes the throne….a new era is dawning. Peter Morgan’s masterfully researched scripts reveal the Queen’s private journey behind the public facade with daring frankness. Prepare to be welcomed into the coveted world of power and privilege and behind locked doors in Westminster and Buckingham Palace….the leaders of an empire await. -Netflix Summary

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Matt Smith, Claire Foy, and John Lithgow

Lead Actors: Claire Foy (Queen Elizabeth II), Matt Smith (Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh), & John Lithgow (Sir Winston Churchill)

Supporting Actors: Jeremy Northam, Eileen Atkins, Victoria Hamilton, Harriet Walter, Ben Miles & Alex Jennings

Director: Stephen Daldry

Writer/Producer: Peter Morgan

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Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and the real queen in wedding clothes.

This highly-anticipated series will be available on November 4th. Two seasons with a total of 20 episodes are planned (so far), as noted in Variety.  Daldry was the director of Billy Elliott and The Hours.  In 2006, Peter Morgan wrote The Queen (starring Helen Mirren).

Rather than finding this woman and this predicament less and less interesting it becomes more and more interesting.  The Queen’s story is a good way to examine the modern history of England because she is so intertwined with the British constitution and the British soul. -Peter Morgan

I’m excited to see Foy in a starring role; she was great in the miniseries Little Dorritt.  Matt Smith (best known for Dr. Who) can handle both comedy and drama.  Maybe he will get a chance to do both? And it’s so cool to see the film/stage veteran, Lithgow, in good shape and working regularly!  The official trailer (below) gives us some hint, BUT not too much, re: the crux of the series- how a young woman manages different roles (daughter, queen, wife, and mother).       

 

2016 AFI Latin American Film Festival: Magallanes (Peru)

In modern-day Lima, middle-aged Harvey Magallanes (Damian Alcazar) works as a driver for his former commanding officer, the wheelchair-bound Colonel (Frederico Luppi), who has lost his memory.  He spends the rest of the day as a taxi driver and drinking w/ Army buddy/mechanic, Milton.   

One morning, he picks up a harried/young/indigenous woman in his cab- Celina (Magaly Solier).  Magallanes is VERY shaken up, looking upset; it turns out that she doesn’t recognize him.  He follows Celina to a convention, learning that she needs money for her hair salon.  After talking to Milton and his reluctant sister, Magallanes sees an opportunity to make some easy money.  WHAT is his connection to Celina?  WHY does he look so guilty?  This film starts out slow (it’s a character drama for the most part), then eventually builds to an (VERY un-Hollywood) climax, which will totally change your view of the protagonist!          

The brilliance of the story is that we find ourselves pulling for Magallanes right up until the moment when we can’t possibly forgive him his transgressions … any more than Celina can. More than an example of the jumbled mess of war and terrorists, the film is a wonderful observation of human nature and how we often rationalize our worst actions to the point of delusion of our own goodness. No matter how hard we try to put things behind us, the bad choices are always there. Some sins just cannot be washed away, and redemption is not always possible.

-Comment from IMDB

New Year, New Shows: Billions & Mercy Street

Billions (Showtime)

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Series Premiere: SUN, 1/17/16, 10PM EST

Cast: Damian Lewis (Homeland), Paul Giamatti, Maggie Siff (Mad Men), & Malin Ackerman

Synopsis: U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) goes after hedge fund king, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Lewis) in a battle between two powerful New York figures.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_raEUMLL-ZI

 

Mercy Street (PBS)

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Premiere: SUN, 1/17/16, 10PM EST

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Hannah James (newcomer), AnnaSophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother), Gray Cole (recently on HBO’s Veep), Norbert Leo Butz (Bloodline; theater actor), Donna Murphy (theater vet), & Jack Falahee (How to Get Away with Murder).

Synopsis: This 6-part miniseries follows the lives of two volunteer nurses at a Union hospital during the Civil War- New England abolitionist Mary Phinney (Winstead) and Confederate supporter Emma Green (James), along w/ the Greens (whose mansion houses the hospital), doctors (including Dr. Jedediah Foster, played by Radnor), and two young black characters (one free, one slave).

Location: This series was shot primarily on location in Richmond, VA.

Related TV Spots:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWQk4NYEIJo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5XOW0PTmKY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkj_LsEqhcs