Fashion Reverie’s Fall 2020 Television Shows and Series Roundup

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“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.”

—Robert Frost

The juggernaut that is 2020 continues slouching toward oblivion as people bounce from dire emergency to dire emergency like a tennis ball in the dryer from hell.  While so many things have been canceled, one tradition that will remain is the fall television season, but it will be significantly altered.  Many premiere dates are TBA and all are subject to change. A considerable number of series coming to mainstream television are originally Canadian or BBC productions as networks are trying to pad their autumn schedules. With a desperate need for new programming, it’s time to step out of your comfort zones and try something new.

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Star Trek Lower Decks” – CBS All Access

Considering the sheer volume of Star Trek spinoffs, it’s surprising that this is the first animation series borne from the Gene Roddenberry classic.  The show focuses on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the USS Cerritos, in the year 2380. The first episode is available for free on YouTube.

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LoveCraft Country” – HBO

With this summer seeing race relations in America reaching a boiling point, this JJ Abrams and Jorden Peele produced series couldn’t come at a better time. Based on the Matt Ruff novel, Lovecraft Country, the series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America.  The series puts a supernatural spin on the very real horrors that African Americans faced at that time (and many will argue never went away). This is going to be a wild, exciting, terrifying and eye-opening ride into America’s past (and current) racial scars.

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Woke” – Hulu

In another shockingly timely series addressing racism in America–hmm, maybe these issues have been reaching a critical momentum since before George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’ murders–“Woke” tells the story of Keef (Lamorne Morris), a black cartoonist set to break into mainstream success. After his life is shaken to the core, due to a misunderstanding borne out of an abuse of power and systematic racism, Keef suddenly sees inanimate objects coming to life and cracking wise.  This show addresses many of the same issues as “Lovecraft Country,” but with an absurdist comedic tone.

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The Undoing” – HBO

Were you underwhelmed by the 2nd season of “Big Little Lies”? You and everyone else.  Get ready for “The Undoing.” Written and produced by David E Kelly, it’s a new mini-series starring Nicole Kidman based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz  set to premiere on HBO this fall. Joyfully living the life of wealthy elite New Yorker, Grace Fraser’s world is rocked due to a violent death and the fallout that threatens to consume her.

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Mr. Mayor” – NBC

Have you been missing Ted Danson since “Good Place” ended? Never fear, he will return in this upcoming series created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. (The powerhouses behind such shows as “30 Rock” and “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.) The crux of the show is a wealthy businessman runs for office and becomes the mayor of Los Angeles.  It is a story inspired by a New York politician whose name rhymes with Schloomberg.

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Big Sky” – ABC

Visionary storyteller David E. Kelly (“Big Little Lies”) has created this thriller based on a series of books by CJ Box.  The show builds around two private detectives search for two missing teenage girls along a stretch of Montana highway. They promptly discover the mystery goes far deeper than anyone could have imagined. Ryan Phillipe stars as Cody Hoyt.

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Clarice” – CBS

Hannibal Lecter has been portrayed in multiple movies and TV series (many say it peaked with Mad Mikkelsen performance) but are we forgetting someone? Juliana Moore portrayed Clarice Starling in 2001 but that was almost 20 years ago! It’s time to bring her back. Set in 1993, a year after the events of “The Silence of the Lambs” (when Agent Starling was played by Jodie Foster), the series takes a hard look at the FBI agent as she traverses the murky waters of investigating murderers and sexual predators amid the landscape of Washington DC politics.

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The Equalizer” – CBS

The 1980 TV show has already inspired two theatrical films and now yet another reboot, but with a fabulous twist. This CBS series will feature none other than Queen Latifah! The Grammy-winning performer stars as an enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. Created by Andrew Marlowe who also helmed ABC’s long-running “Castle.”

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Bob’s Burgers” – Fox

With COVID-19 messing with so many production schedules, we are likely to see more animation because it can be produced while safely social distancing. With a firm start date of Sept 27th, viewers will once again greet the Belcher clan at their seaside restaurant with their burger of the day puns (“She’s a super leek burger,” “Hit me with your best shallot burger,” “The Roquefort Files Burger”) and bizarre but delightful musical numbers for their 11th season! Seasons 1-10 are available on Hulu.

With COVID making safe production of shows difficult, if not impossible, many TV series are being pushed back. A lot of shows have premiere dates that are yet to be announced. Here is a quick list of streaming shows you may have missed to help you pass the time.

Search Party” – HBO Max

Bored Millennials get overly involved in the search for a missing college classmate with horrifying results.

At Home with Amy Sedaris” – HBO Max

Part crafting DIY, part sketch comedy with a hefty dash of wildly inappropriate humor thrown in, featuring the deliciously charming Amy Sedaris.

The Floor is Lava” – Netflix
Fun game show where contestants get a cash prize if they can make their way across a room w/o touching the floor.  This frequently results in them getting beaten up badly.

Get Even” – Netflix

Teen girls at an elite British school form a squad to get revenge on bullies only to find themselves framed for murder.

Pushing Daisies” – CW Seed
This forensic fairytale of a show is filled with brutal murders while bursting with color, humor, music, and heart.

Alias Grace” – Netflix

Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, it tells the true story of a murderous maid in 19th century Canada.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell” – Netflix

Ever wondered what a cooking show written by Tim Burton and directed by David Lynch would be like? This is your chance to find out.

—Cameron Grey Rose

Fashion Reverie’s Summer 2020 Movie Guide

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Well, it’s almost summer!  What better way to take a break from the heat than by settling into a dark air-conditioned theater and take in a show? Well, this year, things may be a bit different. As the curve of infections from the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to flatten, plans are being made to re-open movie theaters with reduced capacity perhaps as soon as July.

In the meantime, some films that were meant to be released in theaters might be moved to VOD or postponed. Fashion Reverie has curated a list of fantastic summer movies, their release dates and the platforms they’ll be released on.

One of the surprising side effects of the pandemic is that drive-ins are coming back. For any of our readers under 35, a drive-in is a giant iPhone screen you watch through your cars’ windshield.  In previous summers, Shakespeare in the Park was the hot ticket for New Yorkers, but it’s canceled this year. This summer’s hot ticket is the drive-in at the Bel Aire Diner in Queens, which saw tickets sell out in minutes. Drive-ins are the only way to see a movie in a large audience while still social distancing. Check your local area and you may find drive-ins popping up all over, and not just for movies!

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The Vast of Night – Available on Amazon Prime

It’s unlikely you’ve heard of this inventive sci-fi film. This movie was passed on by most major film festivals due to its microbudget and complete lack of stars. But don’t let it pass you by. Unable to afford high-end special effects, director Andrew Patterson focuses on mood, lighting, and dialogue to tell the story of a fictional 1950s New Mexico town called Cayuga. While the majority of the town is taking in a high school basketball game, a local DJ and phone operator begin to suspect something might be out there.

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Da 5 Bloods – Available on Netflix June 12th

Just months after receiving an Academy Award for “BlackkKlansmen,” Spike Lee will debut his first Netflix feature “Da 5 Bloods.” Centering on a group of aging African American vets, they return to Vietnam to retrieve the body of their fallen squad leader (played by Chadwick Boseman) along with some treasure they buried in the jungle during the Vietnam War. Cutting back and forth in time, the film explores the bond of brotherhood that brought the former warriors together and the lingering scars that threaten to pull them all apart.

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Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga – Available on Netflix June 26th

Eurovision, the epic European song contest, has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But if you’re desperate for some good songs set to some mind-blowing staging, check out this parody starring Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell as Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir competing with their pop tune “Volcano man.” In an odd twist, filming in Iceland ended just days before a nearby volcano actually erupted.

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The King of Staten Island – VOD starting July 12th

Pete Davidson stars as Scott, a man in his twenties still living with his mother on Staten Island and caught in a state of arrested development ever since his firefighter father was killed on 9/11. As his younger sister heads off to college and his mother begins dating a firefighter, he’s forced to find direction in his life.

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Relic – In theatres and VOD starting July 10th

Looking for some psychological horror in the vein of “Hereditary”? When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. They find more than they bargained for.

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Sometimes Always Rarely Never – VOD July 10th

This film festival darling was going into wide release in March but was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is available on Amazon and on VOD July 10th.  It tells the harrowing story of a fragile teenager being forced to cross state lines to seek an abortion. Director Eliza Hittman hits all the right notes in her directorial debut.

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Tenet – in theaters July 17th

Unfortunately, Fashion Reverie doesn’t know much about this film, but that is only making us more excited to see it. Cast and crew have been sworn to secrecy and there have been no critic screenings. Here’s what we do know: John David Washington and Robert Pattison star as spies tasked with preventing World War III from being started by villain Kenneth Branagh. (Is he the villain? Branagh recently admitted in an interview, he’s not sure.) How does time travel factor in? It’s anybody guess, but clearly from the trailer and the whopping 200-million budget, this will be action-packed thinkfest. See it in IMAX if you can. Director Christopher Nolan is optimistic he can keep the July 17th opening date.

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SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Sponge on the Run – in theaters August 7th

Looking for some family-friendly fare? It’s the return of SpongeBob to the big screen!  SpongeBob and Patrick travel to the lost town of Atlantic City to solve the mysterious kidnapping of Gary the snail.

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Wonder Woman 1984 – in theaters August 14th

Get ready for kick-ass action and some new wave hits! Director Patty Jenkins follows up her 2017 blockbuster with a new story set in, you guessed it, 1984. During the Cold War, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) comes into conflict with two formidable foes—media businessman Maxwell Lord and friend-turned-enemy Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah—while reuniting with her love interest Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine.

Image courtesy of denofgeek.com

Antebellum – in theaters August 21st

With its original release date delayed, this film directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, stars Janelle Monae as a modern-day successful author magicked back into the 19th century as a slave on a Louisiana plantation coming face-to-face with her ancestors.

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Quiet Place 2 – in theaters Sept 2nd

John Krasinski scored a critical and commercial hit with his directorial debut “Quiet Place,” starring his wife Emily Blunt. He returns with “Quiet Place 2” which follows his family as they continue to battle aliens. Flashbacks tells how the attack began.

—Cameron Rose

Bingeable Fashion Documentaries, Film, and Television Series

As this stay-at-home quarantine wears on, we’re all getting awfully restless. Are you looking for a way to pass the time? Fashion Reverie has put together another list of fashion friendly bingeable content to keep you sane as we wait for this madness to end. NeYC

Amazon Prime

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Making the Cut

Ever see something on “Project Runway” that you wanted to buy? Except for a few tie-ins with Macy’s, almost none of the looks were mass produced. However, on “Making the Cut” produced by Amazon, each week the winning look will be available in limited quantities. While the format is nearly identical to “Project Runway,” Amazon clearly provided the show with a big budget–the runway shows are spectacular!and a lot of freedom. The real star is Naomi Campbell as a judge, who clearly has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and a biting razor sharp wit.

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McQueen

This 2017 documentary tackles the dark genius of troubled designer Alexander McQueen. The film explores his extraordinary and deeply controversial collections that made headlines with every showing. Interviews with close friends and family create a rounded portrait of this tortured fashion visionary who took his own life in 2010.

Image courtesy of Amazon Prime

First Monday in May

The Met Gala will not be taking place this year; cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns. Referred to as “The Superbowl of Fashion” this 2016 documentary goes behind the scenes, taking a hard look at how this complicated night comes together, and how tightly Anna Wintour controls it. Don’t take it too hard if you never get in, Wintour personally reviews each invite and reserves the right to revoke them for any reason.

Netflix

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Next in Fashion

On the surface this seems like just another “Project Runway” clone but hosts Tan France and Alexa Chung make it fun and interesting. The contestants are skilled professionals who have already made a name for themselves in fashion but are looking to take it to the next level. So, no tacky home craft fashion here.  

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Styling Hollywood

Meet Jason Bolden and his husband, interior designer Adair Curtis as they create looks for Hollywood stars. This series, which charts an awards season in the life of the stylist Jason Bolden, carefully outlines the serious craft of costuming a star for a red-carpet performance. In passing asides and straight-to-camera testimonies, Jason shares his strategies for flattering clients’ figures and playing to their personalities.

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Pose

Ryan Murphy explores New York City’s African American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-non-conforming ballroom culture scene of the 1980s. From episode one, where a daring heist “liberates” several priceless royal gowns from a museum–Murphy insists it’s based on a true story–you’ll see some eye-popping fashion as well as some the best music from the 1980s. Make sure you have tissues handy, the AIDS epidemic rears its ugly head more than once.

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Gossip Girl

Remember this soapy drama from the aughts? It featured rich Upper Eastside teens –played by actors in their 20’s–who thanks to their parents’ deep pockets wore some of the best fashion of the decade.  Has there ever been a better time to dive into six seasons of escapist fun? Make sure to read the Netflix synopsis. Whoever wrote them was clearly having a good time.

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Schitt’s Creek

This heartwarming show just ended its six-year run (Season 6 is not yet on Netflix.) But despite the odd title, “Schitt’s Creek” is wonderfully funny and features some of the best fashion on television. It tells the story of the Rose family, once home video titans, but thanks to a corrupt business manager the Rose family find themselves bankrupt. Creator Dan Levy said it was important to him that the Roses hung onto their high-end clothes to symbolize their past. Levy insisted on purchasing genuine designer garments for the cast.   An entire episode revolves around Moira Rose ordering a $3700 Pamela Rolland dress.  

Cameron Grey Rose

Coronavirus Lockdown Faciliates Bingeable Television

Image courtesy of Netflix

The world is in a virtual shock and fear is taking hold. The coronavirus has cancelled everything, or almost everything. No movies. No sporting events. No gatherings of more than 10 people.

Well, Fashion Reverie is doing what we can. Here are some television shows to binge. And please make use of the comment section. Give your own suggestions!!

Netflix

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” – 4 seasons

The most amazing thing about the Emmy-winning “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was that the CW stayed with this painfully low-rated show for 4 seasons: but, thank goodness they did. This warm riotously funny musical—total number of 129 songs; that number is correct—looks at a woman attempting to find love while battling debilitating mental illness.

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Episode” – 5 seasons

Co-Creator Jeffrey Klarik—who made a little show called “Friends”—gifted the world with this black comedy that takes a sugarless look at the world of Network TV. Two British writers bring their critically acclaimed series to America and quickly come to regret it. Matt LeBlanc won a Golden Globe for playing himself!

Image courtesy of IGN

Ozark” – 3 Seasons

This excellent Netflix original flew under the radar until the last year’s Emmys where “Ozark” took home statues for Directing (Jason Bateman) and Supporting Actress (Julia Garner). The third season will be available on March 27th. When economic advisor Marty Bryde sees his money-laundering scheme with a Mexican drug cartel go horrifically awry, he’s forced to relocate to the Ozarks. Things just get worse from there.

Image courtesy of IGN

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” – 4 seasons

Tiny Fey’s follow up to “30 Rock” tells the darkly comic tale of Kimmy Schmidt who was kidnapped at age 14 and forced to spend 15 years underground by a crazed Reverend. Hilarious and poignant, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” touches on trophy wives, gentrification, and race relations in New York City.

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Parks and Recreation” – 7 Seasons

This Amy Poehler comedy never really received the props it deserved. Starring as Leslie Knope, “Parks and Recreation” tells the story of politics in small town Pawnee, Indiana Rediscover it now.

 

Hulu

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Killing Eve” – 2 Seasons

This show is so good Netflix tweeted about how awesome it was and urged people to check it out. Even though it’s on Hulu! The series follows Eve Polastri, a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle.

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You’re the Worst” – 6 Seasons

If you like your romantic comedies to be like coffee—jet black and bitter —you’ll love this dark tale of two Angelenos reluctantly falling in love and fighting happiness every step of the way.

THE BOLD TYPE – “Carry The Weight” – Jane gets an eye opening experience when she is tasked with writing a piece about a performance artist/activist who is speaking out about sexual assault. Kat is distracted by thoughts of Adena while trying to throw a memorable NY Fashion Week party for Scarlet. And Sutton gets into an awkward situation with Richard. This episode of “The Bold Type” airs Tuesday, September 5 (9:01 – 10:02 p.m. EDT) on Freeform. (Freeform/Eric Liebowitz)
MEGHANN FAHY, AISHA DEE, KATIE STEVENS

The Bold Type” – 4 Seasons

Fashion Reverie gave a great review to this tale of young female empowerment set in a fashion magazine. Have you kept up? Now is the perfect time to check out again. If nothing else, you’ll get some fab outfit ideas.

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Cougar Town” – 6 Seasons

The series would spend the entire run regretting their chosen name —adding punny comments about it to the opening credits in the final seasons. It tells the stories of neighbors aka The Cul de Sac crew of Gulf Haven, Florida as they hilariously navigate a slide into middle age while drinking wine by the barrel.

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Ugly Betty” – 5 seasons

Though “Ugly Betty” was last on television 10 years ago, the adventures and meanderings of an unglamorous girl, America Ferrera, working at a fashion magazine can still hold your interest and keep you smiling and laughing. And Vanessa Williams as the conniving creative director Wilhelmina Slater is classic television at its best.

—Cameron Rose

 

Fashion Reverie’s 2019 Holiday Film Roundup

The holidays can mean family, friends, celebrations, and great movies!  Studios release their films in late Nov and December in the hope that they will garner a major award during award season which can contribute to increased sales and viewership. That provides us with a rich opportunity to escape the hectic holiday season with a few hours of pure entertainment. These are the films Fashion Reverie recommends. Enjoy!

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“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

This has been a dark year. Forest fires, mass shootings, Venice is sinking and the less said about politics the better. Why not spend two heartwarming hours watching multiple Academy Award-winner Tom Hanks portray Fred Rogers. Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, the film tells the story of kindness triumphing over cynicism.  Bring tissues. You’ll be crying with joy.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” opens on November 22.

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“Knives Out”

Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in “Knives Out.” When a rich crime novelist is found dead following his 85th birthday party, everyone is a suspect. With a knockout cast including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more. This exciting whodunit will have you guessing til the end.

“Knives Out” opens November 27.

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“The Aeronauts”

In 1862, daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) teams up with pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While based on true events filmmakers strayed from the actual, considerably.  But, in doing so delivered an exciting story with stunning cinematography. See this in IMAX if you can. The sweeping visuals will take your breath away.

“The Aeronauts” opens December 6.

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“In Fabric”

Who hasn’t dreamed of finding a dress that will change their life?  An insecure woman looking to dip her toe into the dating scene visits a bewitching London boutique and leaves with a perfectly fitted blood red gown. This darkly humorous tale blends horror with comedy as Marianne Jean-Baptiste discovers she’s a true fashion victim after inadvertently unleashing a curse.

“In Fabric” opens December 6.

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“Jumanji: The Next Level”

Looking for a film suitable for the entire family? This third installment in the Jumanji reboot finds the gang trying to save their friend Spencer after he gets sucked back into the video game while attempting to destroy the console. This time, bouncing from jungles to deserts to frozen tundra with two new characters.  Get ready for some rip-roaring adventure.

 “Jumanji: The Next Level” opens December 13.

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“Bombshell”

“Bombshell” is based on the real scandal that would force the late Roger Aisles to resign from Fox News following accusations of sexual harassment. Featuring Academy Award-winner Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theronwho looks so much like Megyn Kelly it’s disturbingtells the explosive story of the women who stood up to Media mogul and took him down.

“Bombshell” opens December 13.

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Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker

Co-Written and directed by J.J Abrams this is the third installment in the sequel trilogy, the ninth and final installment in the Skywalker saga. A year after the events of The Last Jedi, the remnants of the Resistance face the First Order once again—while reckoning with the past and their own inner turmoil. It was planned that Rise of Skywalker would focus on General Leia Organa, but Carrie Fisher’s sudden death two years ago forced a script change. Fisher will appear in scenes leftover from the previous films.

“Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker” opens December 20.

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“Cats”

Written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and being the longest running musical on Broadway,  this “Cats” stars James CordenJudi DenchJason DeruloIdris Elba, Jennifer HudsonIan McKellenTaylor Swift, and Rebel Wilson. The polarizing trailer was described by some as a “demented dream ballet.” But with this cast, you know the film will have some amazing musical numbers. You’re curious admit it.

“Cats” opens December 20.

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Little Women

After writing and directing the exceptional “Ladybird,” Greta Gerwig found herself the fifth woman to be nominated for a best director Academy Award. This Christmas she will unspool an adaption of the classic Louisa May Alcott s novel Little Women starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scalen, and Timothée Chalamet. The four March sisters find themselves coming of age in America after the Civil War.

“Little Women” opens on December 25.

Cameron Grey Rose

Fashion Reverie’s Fall 2019 Movie Roundup

After seeing a drop in their average movie attendance during the summer, the studios are focusing their attention on award season and the crop of films they hope Academy members will take into consideration when filling out their ballots in January. And why wouldn’t they? Some of the fall films are amazing and Fashion Reverie is prepped and primed to keep you informed.

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The Goldfinch

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartlett, won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but many were intimidated by the novel’s 700-page length. This hefty tome has been concentrated into an easily digestible two-and-half hour tale of a young boy who loses his mother during a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the continued impact of that tragedy on the course of his life.  “The Goldfinch,” directed by John Crowley, is in theaters beginning September 13, and stars Nicole Kidman, Finn Wolfhard, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, and Sarah Paulson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyfPb8otVNY

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Ad Astra

Brad Pitt recently announced his plans to step back from acting, despite raves for his performances in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and now for “Ad Astra,” the story of an astronaut on a quest to save the Earth and solve the mystery of his father doomed space expedition that took place 30 years earlier. 

“Ad Astra” is directed by James Gray and stars Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, and Tommy Lee Jones. “Ad Astra’ opens in theaters on September 20.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsCNKuB93BA&gclsrc=aw.ds&

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Downton Abbey

Fans of the PBS series can rejoice in a return to the grounds when “Downton Abbey” debuts on the big screen. While navigating a slow slide into a more modern world, Abbey is thrown into a tizzy when it’s announced the King and Queen will be visiting the grounds. Get ready for some savage takedowns by the Dowager!

“Downton Abbey” was directed by Michael Engler, stars Matthew Goode, Maggie Smith, and Michelle Dockery. “Downton Abbey” opens in theaters on September 20.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu3mP0c51hE

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Judy

There is already talk that this will bring Renee Zellweger a second Oscar. After having been mercilessly exploited by MGM, her own mother, husbands, and incompetent managers, Judy Garland found herself nearly bankrupt at age 47. Attempting a comeback, the beloved entertainer spent her final days performing in London. Zellweger actually performs the songs in “Judy.” Those who were lucky enough to see Judy Garland perform in London detail that while Garland’s sparkling wit remained, her voice was nearly shot due to decades of hard living. Make sure you bring some tissues. 

“Judy” is directed by Rupert Goold and stars Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, and Gaia Weiss. “Judy” opens in theaters on September 27.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lekmh2KLvM4

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The Laundromat

With a roster of A-list stars and the crowd-pleasing director of Ocean’s 11, “The Laundromat” is guaranteed to be rollicking good time. When her idyllic vacation takes a horrifyingly tragic turn, Ellen Martin starts investigating her husband’s fake life insurance policy only to find a cesspool of fraud and money laundering, leading all way to Panama City. Inspired by true events and other illicit absurdities that the super-wealthy indulge in to support the world’s corrupt financial system, “The Laundromat” will not disappoint.

“The Laundromat” is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Sharon Stone. “The Laundromat is in theaters on September 27.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuBRcfe4bSo

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Lucy in the Sky

Natalie Portman plays Astronaut Lucy Cola. After an extended time in space, Cola returns to Earth only to find herself unraveling after beginning an extra-marital affair with a NASA colleague played by Jon Hamm. “Lucy in the Sky” is loosely based on the incredible tale of Lisa Nowak who was once charged with attempting to kidnap a fellow astronaut. 

“Lucy in the Sky” is directed by Noah Hawley and stars Natalie Portman, Zazie Beetz, and Jon Hamm. “Lucy in the Sky” opens in theaters on October 4.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQP-L2pJzmk

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The Lighthouse

Ready for some good old-fashioned horror? In December 1900, the lighthouse keepers of Eilean Mor (an uninhabited island off the coast of Scotland) vanished, leaving few clues. Though many theories abound, the most popular is the extreme solitude resulted from something deeply unfortunate. Director Robert Eggers filmed this unsolved mystery in black and white, highlighting its creepy themes. Hmm, is that Sea Monster? 

“The Lighthouse” stars Robert Pattison and Willem Dafoe and is directed by Robert Eggers. “The Lighthouse” opens in theaters on October 18.

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Dolemite Is My Name

Eddie Murphy plays the comedian and singer Rudy Ray Moore, who was inspired to branch out and develop an alter-ego he could use on stage, a foul-mouthed pimp named Dolemite. When the character’s direction couldn’t take off on stage or in a comedy album, he took Dolemite to the screen and made a series of Blaxploitation movies starring his alternate persona. Look for some great 70s Blaxploitation fashion in this film.

“Dolemite Is My Name” is set for the release date of October 25 and is directed by Craig Brewer, “Dolemite Is My Name” stars Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Wesley Snipes, Mike Epps, Titus Burgess, TI, and Craig Robinson..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws1YIKsuTjQ

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Harriet

Based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.

“Harriet” is directed by Kasi Lemons and stars Cynthia Enrivo, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Zackary Momoh, Deborah Ayorinde, and Vondie Curtis-Hall.  “Harriet” opens in theaters on November 1.          

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqoEs4cG6Uw

Cameron Grey Rose

 

“All Is True” Recounts an Unknown Period of Shakespeare’s Life

How much do we really know about William Shakespeare? We know that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was educated at Kings New School.  He married Anne Hathaway at 18 and had three children with her. And most importantly he wrote at least 37 plays between 1590 and 1613.

Kenneth Branagh’s “All Is True” examines the last dark decade of Shakespeare’s life and what has been speculated about his last years. In this last decade, Shakespeare had quietly retired to his birth home of Stratford-upon-Avon with his wife and two daughters. His beloved son Hamnet died of unknown cases in 1596. The death of his son is the seed narrative for “All Is True.”

The films open with Shakespeare’s beloved (Kenneth Branagh) Globe Theatre burning to the ground with Shakespeare watching accompanied by a very young boy. Shakespeare returns to his home in Stratford-upon-Avon and attempts to mend his tedious relationship with his wife and two daughters.

Shakespeare’s oldest daughter Susanna (Lydia Wilson) is married to a self-righteous doctor John Hall (Hadley Fraser) while his younger acidic daughter Judith, brilliantly portrayed by Kathryn Wilder, and his wife (Judy Dench) have remained at the family home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Dench and Wilder are two opposite sides of the same coin. They have both experienced the fame and absence of Shakespeare while responding to absence in different ways. Dench refuses him access to the marital bed and Wilder bitterly criticizes almost everything he does. This is the household that Shakespeare in his later life must settle down to.

At the core of this uneasy family reunion of sorts is Shakespeare’s mourning over the death of his son Hamnet, Judith’s twin brother. Believing that his son possessed a great talent for writing, Shakespeare continues to bemoan Hamnet’s death many years after his son’s passing. Judith has become a bitter shrew believing that her father would have preferred her death over her twin brother, and Anne, Shakespeare, has settled done to a frustrated existence of mundane normalcy.

Though “All Is True” is a slow-moving film, Branagh has done an excellent job at recapturing the norms and attitudes of post-Elizabethan England. His Shakespeare is both wise and blithely unaware at times. Having spent so much of his time being a man of the stage, the pedestrian humdrum life of Stratford-upon-Avon is a relief from the hustle and bustle of London, and at other times a lifestyle to be tolerated. Reintegrating himself into family life is proving to be tedious at best. And often, Branagh’s Shakespeare is treated like a stranger in his own home.

Dench’s Anne Hathaway is a resolute and tempered matriarch who has written her own narrative about the circumstances of her marriage and the death of her son. Her narrative is her only truth. No other truth matters.

While Dench and Branagh’s characters are fully fleshed out portrayals, it is Wilder as Judith that really gives viewers insight into norms and morays of post-Elizabethan England. Women are just an appendage to men with no real power or consequence. And they wear their unhappiness like a heavy shroud.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures

Though “All Is True is not for a mass audience, Branagh does give an interesting perspective on Shakespeare’s last days with an interesting twist on his sexual preference thrown in for good measure.  The challenge is if audience will really care about this depiction of William Shakespeare. Hmm, it is a hard call.

“All Is True” is a Sony Pictures film, directed by Kenneth Branagh. “All Is True” opens in select theaters on May 10.

 —William S. Gooch

“The White Crow” Examines Nureyev, the Early Years

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There is no doubt that Rudolf Nureyev was a legend in and out of the ballet world. At the peak of his career in the 1960s and 70s, Nureyev was a larger than life character that traversed the worlds of dance, theatre, film and celebrity. No other dancer, until Nureyev, achieved the international stardom and media proliferation that was a constant companion to his unbelievable stagecraft.

And though Nureyev career and life has been studied, dissected, and examined almost ad nauseum since his untimely death in 1993, very few of the many documentaries have looked closely at his childhood and his life before he became an international ballet star.In David Hare’s “The White Crow,” Nureyev’s life, before he become a media star, is carefully examined, from his poverty-stricken existence as a young boy in Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia to his student life at the prestigious Vaganova Choreographic Institute in Leningrad, Russia to his escape to freedom at the Orly Airport in Paris in 1961. These previously unexamined years gives a unique view into the brooding personality of Nureyev. And though there is no doubt that Nureyev loved the spotlight and adoration of ballet fans, he was, at times, introverted, cautious, untrusting, and extremely arrogant. If any artist possessed qualities that could be found of both sides of the coin, Nureyev did.

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Oleg Ivanko as Nureyev possesses many of the qualities of a young Nureyev. He has a prodigious ballet technique, deep brooding eyes, the same flaring nostrils—a true sign of genius—and a high opinion of himself. In Ivanko’s Nureyev we also see an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and all things Western.What perhaps stands out most about Ivanko’s Nureyev is his obsession with making himself the Kirov Ballet’s premier danseur. In “The White Crow” we witness Nureyev’s unrelenting drive to make his technique and his artistry unsurpassable by any other dancer at that time. Interestingly, the male ballet star of the Kirov at the time of Nureyev’s defection was Yuri Soloviev (Serge Polunin). Soloviev was a classical dancer more in the vein of what the Kirov respected, unlike Nureyev wild, pantherine presence on stage. And though the authorities were putting all their hopes and press of Soloviev, Nureyev became the star of the European tour.

Much has been written about Nureyev’s relationship with Alexander Pushkin, his ballet teacher and mentor. Ralph Fiennes, who also directed this film, portrays Pushkin as a quiet, elegant man who is slightly cuckolded by his wife Xenia (Chulpan Khamatova), with whom Nureyev later had an intense sexual relationship. Fiennes superbly demonstrates how Pushkin’s measured by firm mentorship of Nureyev helped restrain some of his unruly behavior without watering down his artistry. Fiennes also brilliantly captures in this film the austerity and blandness of every day life in Soviet Russia and how something as magical as a ballet could bring fantasy and joy to the human spirit.; particularly, in a society where artistic freedom was carefully monitored.

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Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of “The White Crow” were the scenes where Nureyev (Oleg Ivanko) is exploring the seedier sides of Paris before his defection. Cases in point were smoky cafes with same-sex couples and back alleys with subversive characters. All these influences feed Nureyev’s curiosity and imagination, which made it only natural for him to defect, especially after his affront to KGB authorities was to end his career at the Kirov Ballet.

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With “The White Crow” audience will witness all the tragedy and passionate vibrancy that made s young inchoate Nureyev the great artist that the world would come to adore. Out of the seedling of talent, determination and boldness was borne a dance artist that forever changed the image of male ballet dancers. And “The White Crow” details how it all began!!

“The White Crow” opens in select theaters on April 26.

—William S. Gooch

“Mary Queen of Scots”: A Tale of Two Queens

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“A woman is like a tea bag—you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” –Eleanor RooseveltAnd like former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, both Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I exhibit unbelievable strength and fortitude during difficult political times. In Josie Rourke’s “Mary Queen of Scots,” challenging political conflicts bring out the best and the worst in both female rulers.

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“Mary Queen of Scots” explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage juxtaposed against female independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones—and change the course of history.This film of two strong, independent royals interestingly coincides with 2018 being deemed ‘The Year of the Woman’ and a surge of female empowerment evidenced in the US 2018 Mid-Term elections where an unprecedented amount of female candidate ran and won federal and local offices. Though female empowerment during the Elizabethan era rested almost solely in the province of male sovereigns with women mostly being benign consorts who helped bring wealth and power to the throne, Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor, respectively Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, were decidedly different, having inherited their thrones because of a lack of male heirs. (At that time, England and Scotland were two separate kingdoms.)

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Related through their ancestor Henry VII, though divided by religious affiliations—Mary being a devoted Catholic and Elizabeth a confirmed Protestant—both Mary and Elizabeth wore their respective crowns in a man’s world. And Josie Rourke highlighted this struggle—whether factually or fictionally—brilliantly in this film.

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Rourke also managed to take the well-known historical fact of Mary Queen of Scots’ struggles with her throne and with Elizabeth I and inject a modern sensibility into a film that could have been just another dusty journey down a historical path. Rourke’s infusion of modern elements includes diverse, multiracial casts with black ambassadors and aristocrats, as well as Asian and Latin courtiers. Initially this mélange of diversity was a bit offsetting, but after a short time, due to the incredible script and acting chops of the cast, the cast diversity began to actually add to the film.You cannot talk about historical dramas without looking at the costumes. Oscar-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne was historically accurate and revelatory with her costume choices in this film. Understanding that bold color was a luxury that even most royals didn’t have access to, Byrne attired the cast, for the most part, in the neutral colors of black, grey, white, with some occasional blue tones in for good measure. Only Queen Elizabeth I’s costumes exhibited a small injection of bold color. Byrne also did a great job with Queen Elizabeth I’s headdresses and Mary’s battle attire was both powerful and feminine at the same time.

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Costumes and multiracial casting aside, this movie would have had a powerful impact with the well-skill abilities of the two main characters. Audience members will readily sympathize with Mary’s (Ronan) almost insurmountable task of ruling a divided Scotland, and the many obstacles to her sovereignty. And Robbie skillfully demonstrated Elizabeth’s transition from a young female ruler to a woman who had no choice but to defeminize herself in order to rule the throne.“Mary Queen of Scots” displayed the inordinate sacrifices that both rulers made in order to be sovereigns. And in the end, neither Mary nor Elizabeth won. Mary lost her life, and Elizabeth gave up her right to womanhood.

“Mary Queen of Scots” opens in limited release on December 7.

—William S. Gooch

The Most Authentic Callas: “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words”

What is to be said about opera legend Maria Callas that hasn’t always been said? Not much. There have been several documentaries and movies her life—“Callas Forever,” “Maria Callas: La Divina: A Portrait,” Callas Assoluta,” “Maria Callas: Life & Art,” and “Maria Callas: Living and Dying for.” So, is another documentary or movie about La Callas necessary?

Perhaps, Tom Volf’s documentary “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” will give Callas’s diehard fans a reason for another film about the great diva. “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” is the first documentary where Maria Callas tells her life story in her own words. The entire documentary is told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs—nearly all of which have never been shown to the public—the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time. This documentary is a loving portrait of one of history’s most extraordinarily talented women, told in a way that is revelatory, unprecedented, and authoritative.

Interestingly, “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” is perhaps the most authentic reflection on Callas’ life and there is no doubt that Callas’ life was a life that great dramas are made from. From her up from the almost bottom in the Bronx—most people don’t know that Callas is actually a New York native—to the beginning of her operatic career in Greece to her dramatic weight loss, to her becoming a style icon in the manner of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren to her reputation as a difficult diva, to her affair with Aristotle Onassis everything is documented through interviews and photographs in the diva’s own words.

What is most evident in this documentary is that though Callas was a very complicated woman whose life and career was just as complicated as the woman herself is that Callas was totally invested in the complications in her life and her passions. “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” is perhaps the first documentary that records in an artist own words the angst and frustrations of a great artist torn between career, family life and personal obligations.

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And though there is some sadness and regret in this film due to Callas’ tragic life and untimely death at the age of 59, there are some great footage of her performing great operatic roles—Norma, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor—as well as great interviews with Dick Cavett, particularly after her breakup with Onassis. There is also great footage of Callas’ fans queued outside of the old Metropolitan House in New York City.

For those Callas diehards this is a must-see film. In “Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” still lives and lives, through her own words.

Photos by REX/Shutterstock (25089c) MARIA CALLAS WITH PHOTOGRAPHERS
VARIOUS – 1968

“Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words” is directed by Tom Volf and opens in limited release nationwide on November 2.

—William S. Gooch

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