Tag Archives: Netflix

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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Velvet Buzzsaw — Official Trailer

Whoa! What the hell was that?

The film is called Velvet Buzzsaw, and it’s by Dan Gilroy, who made the brilliantly creepy hit Nightcrawler in 2014. For this new movie, he’s teamed up again with Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. John Malkovich, Tom Sturridge, Billy Magnussen, and Toni “Deserves a Best Actress Nomination But Won’t Get It” Collette round out the cast.

From the trailer, it looks like they’re going for over-the-top campiness. (Jake wildly over-acting. Jake getting laughably hysterical. Jake grabbed by painted monkey arms.)  I wonder if Gilroy and Gyllenhaal were aiming for a 21st-century version of something that the great Vincent Price would have hammed up in his prime.

Velvet Buzzsaw premieres this weekend at Sundance, and shows up on Netflix and in limited theatres on 1 February 2019.

The Magicians — Off to a Good Start

On this season’s first episode of The Magicians, Elliot suddenly realizes that the Fairy Queen is magically using Margo’s missing right eye to spy on the Good Guys, and anticipate their moves. (Long story. Don’t worry about it, just watch the first two series, currently playing on Netflix.) To avoid revealing that he now knows he’s being constantly observed, he shares this insight through coded pop cultural allusions, which are helpfully subtitled for those of us playing along at home.

Warning: Possibly NSFW. The language is presidential.

It’s scenes like this one that make me love the show.

Altered Carbon — Two Teasers and a Trailer

Netflix has adapted Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan’s award-winning 2002 cyberpunk novel, into an initial 10-episode series. The company released a couple of teasers late last year, and a full trailer this week. Here are the teasers:

[No, I haven’t accidentally slipped a porn video into the blog. That initial image is just Netflix being Netflix. They call these things “teasers” for a reason.]

And here’s the new trailer:

Ah, the “old brains in new bodies” trope!

I don’t know about this one. On the one hand, Joel Kinnaman and James Purefoy are both solid performers. On the other hand, the CGI is less than dazzling. It looks on the cheap side.*

All 10 episodes of Altered Carbon will become available on 2 February 2018.


*On the third hand, some of the most impressive CGI-heavy trailers I saw last year were for Ghost in the Shell, and that didn’t turn out so well, did it? I’m still a little embarrassed about getting so overheated about that one.

Stranger Things 2 — Final Trailer

But first, the teaser for the trailer:

It’s Halloween, 1984, and all is not well in Hawkins, Indiana. The kids are still in trouble, a big ugly monster with a lot of tentacles is creeping around, and Wynona Ryder is freaking out again. It’s almost time for Stranger Things 2.

The conventional wisdom is that the sequel is never as good as the original, but there are exceptions to the rule. There are arguments to be made, for instance, that The Godfather Part II, Aliens, and The Empire Strikes Back improve on their predecessors.

Stranger Things, Netflix’s homage to the Steven Spielberg/Stephen King version of the 1980s, was the big television hit of the summer of 2017, and one of the most talked-about media events of the year.

In two weeks, we’ll see if lightning can strike twice in the same place. (Hint: It can.)

On Friday, 27 October 2018, Netflix will make all the episodes of Stranger Things 2 available for streaming.


A Little Bonus

The Crown — Season 2 Teaser

A Christmas gift from Netflix to all of us Anglophiles: The Crown returns on 8 December 2017.

It looks like we’re jumping ahead to the early 1960s by the end of Season 2, which is good news, since Season 1 often felt like it was taking place in real-time.*

The new season will begin with the Suez Crisis in 1956 and end with the fallout from the Profumo affair of 1963. The teaser features a brief look at Michael C. Hall, aka “Dexter,” as President Kennedy.

The Crown, with its solid performances, was one of my favourite shows of 2016.


*Not that I minded. For me, the more detailed, the better, when it comes to getting my British fix. I was only worried that at the pace the first series was playing out, I’d be celebrating my 100th birthday long before The Crown made it to the Diana years.

Stranger Things Season 2 — Comic-Con “Thriller” Trailer

The 2017 Comic-Con International ends today, and, as always, the event was packed with teasers, trailers, and sneak peaks. Among he most anticipated was this trailer for the second season of Stranger Things.

It doesn’t disappoint.

We’re back in the 80s again, a year after the action of last summer’s breakout hit.

Arcades! Dragon’s Lair! Reagan/Bush! Winona Ryder! Ghostbusters! Thriller! Shorts that were actually, you know, short.

It even has Memphis sheets!*

Sequels are always tricky. Can the Stranger Things recapture the charm and magic of the original?

We’ll find out on 27 October 2017, when Netflix will make the whole series available for streaming.


To Be Stuck Here Inside of Mobile, with These Memphis Sheets Again

*Well, sort of. The sheets you can see at the 3:03 mark are certainly reminiscent of the Memphis designs that were ubiquitous in the mid-80s, but I don’t think they’re the original item. This is just another subtle Stranger Things 80s homage.

You can see real Memphis sheets on Grady’s bed at the beginning of this scene from 1985’s A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. (AKA the gay one.)

Memphis,” btw, doesn’t have anything to do with the city in Egypt. It was the name of a Milan design group, and had a style that heavily influenced New Wave graphics. Apparently, it’s making a comeback this year.

Being able to spread important, potentially life-changing information like this is what makes blogging so rewarding.