Category Archives: Coming Attractions

New Tales of the City

“When I first got off the bus years ago, I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
—Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton in Tales of the City

Oh, yes, Mary Ann, in this you are not unique. The first time I was in San Francisco, I had exactly the same feeling.*

And now, thanks to Netflix, we’re going home again.

“inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.”

Tales of the City had its start as a three-times-a-week serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Author Armistead Maupin mixed real and (mainly) fictional characters to capture the essence of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Maupin succeeded in doing for The City what Tom Wolfe failed to do for New York in Bonfire of the Vanities, probably the most overrated novel of the late 20th century. The column became must-read material, and a cult was born.

The first novelization of the serial was published in 1978, followed by five more volumes published at two-year intervals, with three more books released after a 20-year gap.

In 1993, Channel 4 (UK) turned the first book into a superb miniseries, which was shown on PBS in the US in early 1994. Here’s the trailer:

Good news! That original series is currently streaming on Acorn.

The new series will be released on Netflix on 7  June  2019.


Bonus Track

The great Laura Linney makes an uncredited appearance in this video for the also-great Aimee Mann. Watch closely, and see if you can spot her.


* Granted, I also had exactly the same feeling the first time I was in London, and the first time I was in Paris. Never had it in my own hometown,  though, for some reason….

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The Game‘s Afoot, and It’s Almost Too Much of a Great Thing

In case you haven’t heard, Game of Thrones returned to HBO last night with another awe-inducing episode, after an absence of almost two years. The first of the six episodes that make up the final season moved most of the human (and other) chess pieces to their correct places on the board.

Here’s the new Game of Thrones opener, which has already been analysed to death by easy-to-find online fanboys:

So once again, with Killing Eve at 8 PM followed by Game of Thrones an hour later, Sunday in the US has become Must See TV night, as it was during the reigns of Deadwood and Mad Men and Breaking Bad and The Wire and The Sopranos.*

But it’s too much.

Killing Eve, the best new show of 2018, returned for a second season just as quirky and delightful as it was last year. Game of Thrones, the most popular television series in the world, is simply unmissable. The problem is that the two great shows are painfully incompatible. In theme, tone, writing, acting styles, and general sensibility, they share nothing.

I watched them both in their regular time slots last night, and realized almost at once that it was a mistake. You can’t make the jump from contemporary London and Paris to quasi-Tudor Britain-with-Dragons without dislocating something vital. Difficult though it is, from now on I’ll watch one of them when it airs, and the other a day or two later.

Now I only have to decide which to watch first.


*Loved Deadwood, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. Thought The Wire and The Sopranos were both overrated.

After Killing Eve — Witches and Vampires and Demons, Oh, My!

Immediately following  tonight’s season premiere of Killing Eve, BBC America will screen the first episode of the well-reviewed British supernatural series A Discovery of Witches, based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The first eight episodes ran in the UK last Fall, and the series has been renewed for two more seasons.

I’m liking the rich Venice and Oxford settings, which are a long way from Sookie Stackhouse’s Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Killing Eve Returns Tonight

Killing Eve returns tonight at 8 PM ET with an episode called “Do You Know How to Dispose of a Body?” on both BBC America and AMC.


Six Minutes of Villanelle

Here are some memorable Villanelle scenes from the first season of Killing Eve. Warning: Huge Spoilers if you haven’t seen the first series.

The Dead Don’t Die — First Trailer

So, is the slogan correct? Does The Dead Don’t Die really have “The Greatest Zombie Cast Ever Disassembled”?

It may well be. Look who’s in it:

Chloë Sevigny, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Selena Gomez, Bill Murray, Austin Butler, Tom Waits, Caleb Landry Jones, Carol Kane, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, and Iggy Pop. Tilda Swinton* or Steve Buscemi alone would be enough to get me out of the kitchen and into a theatre.

And even if the presence of some of my favourite actors wasn’t enough, there’s also this: During the trailer, I heard a brief segment from a song, and it stopped me dead, so to speak. I immediately recognized it as “Seven and Seven Is”, by the 1960s band Love, creators of the achingly beautiful Forever Changes album. Love + Iggy Pop + Tom Waits — I’d see this one just for the soundtrack.

I’ve never been a huge fan of writer/director Jim Jarmusch, although I did like Only Lovers Left Alive, his lush 2013 vampire film with Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, and, of course, the divine Tilda. (Hmmm. First vampires, now zombies. Can a Jim Jarmusch werewolf movie be far away?)

The Dead Don’t Die is scheduled for a 14 June 2019 release.


*In a description of the movie for Esquire, Tyler Coates wrote that “Driver, Murray, and Sevigny play a trio of befuddled police officers who must prepare to do battle against the undead, while Swinton is an inexplicably Scottish and sword-wielding mortician who joins the cause.”

Inexplicably? Of course she plays a Scottish sword-wielding mortician. This is Tilda Swinton he’s writing about. What else would he expect?

Stranger Things: Season 3 — New Trailer

There’s a new trailer for Stranger Things: Season 3.

It’s the Fourth of July, 1985, and Hawkins, Indiana, is ready to celebrate. Ronald Reagan is in the White House, “Sussudio” is at the top of the charts, and the gang probably stayed up late last night, talking about the newly released movie, Back to the Future.

What could possibly go wrong?

[Insert ominous Stranger Things theme music here.]

We won’t find out until the Fourth of July, 2019, when Stranger Things: Season 3 premieres on Netflix.

Meanwhile, how times change…. For me, at least, the most shocking scene from the trailer was not the appearance of the scale-covered slobbering tarantula monster thingy, but the image of a man lighting a cigarette in a restaurant.

it just seemed so wrong….