Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

March 19, 2018

Robin Campillo’s French language film, BPM (Beats Per Minute) tells the story of Paris ACT-UP in the early 1990’s at the height of the AIDS epidemic just before the new medications became available which would save millions of lives worldwide. BPM is without a doubt the best feature film ever created focusing on the AIDS crisis. Perhaps it is because the filmmaker is 55 years old and was alive during the worse part of the epidemic. Campillo crafts a story filled with anger, activism, frustration, creativity, love and sex. Blended together, these elements tell the accurate story of what it was like – the immediacy of life during this pivotal moment in gay history. Activism was important as dancing which was important as sex which was important as community. BPM rightfully snagged six Cesar Awards (French Oscars), including best film, original script, male newcomer, supporting actor and music. BPM is a pitch perfect film with a cast of mostly young actors who lose themselves in their roles as activists fighting for their lives and the lives of the people they love. BPM is essential viewing. 5 out of 5 for this instant masterpiece.

BPM was released on disk, digital, and on-demand this past week.
Buy a copy at Wolfe Video and support lesbian owned and operated business.
Read Reel Charlie’s list of important feature films and documentaries on the subject of HIV and AIDS.



The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 1

March 18, 2018

Released this week on disk, Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood‘s book, The Handmaid’s Tale exceeds all expectations. Why? Well first there’s the obvious: the production value swings off the charts – writing, directing, acting, costumes, set design, cinematography all outstanding. The tenor of the production brought literal chills to my body. By episode three I was curled up in a ball on the sofa. The Handmaid’s Tale might possibly be the first excellent television series I don’t suggest binging on. Let the terror settle in a bit similar to how Hulu released it – one episode per week. But the real reason I felt wrecked to my core was that this 1985 Sci-Fi novel now reads as a warning to our potential future. And not something in the distant future we need to pay heed. Instead it feels very much like the possibility of what might happen to our country if Trump walks away from the Presidency for even more greed and power leaving the executive branch shattered and ripe for Pence and his insane far-right christian cronies to take over the country once and for all declaring martial law on all of our freedoms. And by all I mean every woman, all men who don’t follow strict heteronormative behavior, people of color, the poor and disenfranchised and my own personal group – LGBTQ folk. So the creators at Hulu have done their job well scaring the shit out of me and making The Handmaid’s Tale a call to arms. Each of us is required to do what we can to keep these lunatics not only at bay, but to bury this hatred for diversity and freedom once and for all. Love truly must win in all its beautiful colors and permutations.

Shout out to a crazy great cast including Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Yvonne Strahovski, Max Minghella, Amanda Brugel, Joseph Fiennes, Madeline Brewer, O-T Fagbenle, Ann Dowd (shudder), and Alexis Bledel (shattering her Rory Gilmore curse forever). Words cannot describe how visceral my reaction to The Handmaid’s Tale has been. It deserves all the praise your friends have doled out, it deserves all the awards, it’s deserves attention and it deserves to be an artistic warning to every decent human being to do everything in their power to crush this hatred and darkness in humanity once and for all. 5 out of 5.

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.

Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric

February 14, 2018

I believe the documentary Gender Revolution came about after Katie Couric was slammed by transgender advocates for spending too much time asking about genitals during an interview with Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. I’m remembering this which can be dangerous. So if that’s not how this project came about, you can tell me I didn’t do my homework and I’ll happily edit the post. Meanwhile, I found Gender Revolution to be an easy-to-digest, sensible, and accessible documentary for the general public. That’s a good thing. If you’re unfamiliar or confused by the terms intersex, cisgender, or any other word relating to gender, add this to your to-watch queue. The documentary is an eye-opening look at gender beginning with intersex people and moving into the transgender experience with all its iterations. There are doctors, scientists, parents and college students discussing how the western world is evolving and how our awareness is vital to the safety and happiness of our intersex, trans, and gender variant family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. 3.5 out of 5 for this clear examination of the complexities of gender.

See the Gender Revolution companion page on National Geographic.

Live Stream Winter Olympics 2018

February 10, 2018

Gus Kenworthy posts photo with fellow openly gay Olympian Adam Rippon: ‘Eat your heart out, Pence’

Mashable gives us all the information we need to live stream the Winter Olympics if we’ve cut the cord. From Mashable,

NBC finally got it together this year and will be airing all of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games (Feb. 9-25) while they occur, including the Opening Ceremony that aired earlier Friday. Because South Korea is some 14-17 hours ahead of the U.S. (depending on where you live), you’ll want to map out the full schedule and make your plan.

Of course, the easiest way to watch the Olympics is to simply turn on NBC. They’ll be airing the Opening Ceremony along with major events and competition highlights starting each night at 8 p.m. in Primetime as they normally do.

But if you just can’t wait, if you’re an Olympics junkie like me, or if you’ve ditched cable for on-demand services like Hulu and Sling TV, then livestreaming is the way to go.

NBC will air all events live this year via, which you can stream online or with the NBC Sports mobile app. You’ll need to use your cable provider log in to access the content, or an over-the-top TV service like Fubo TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, or YouTube TV to authenticate viewing access.

Read the full article on Mashable.


#MeToo Question

January 19, 2018

As we prepare for our annual How to Win Your Oscar Pool program at the library on March 2, 2018, I emailed a question to my all-female team of experts. We print out a list of our favorite films for the year along with a list of our all-time favorite Oscar Best Picture films for participants to take home. My list from previous years has two glaring problems:

American Beauty (Kevin Spacey)
Annie Hall (Woody Allen)

What should I do? Scrap these from the list? I can easily do that. I want to add Moonlight to the list so I need to get rid of at least one film. But there are other films I could choose to delete.

Is it ok to love old films made by or starring actors who are involved in sexual abuse in their personal lives? I asked this suggestion previously when I recently re-watched Allen’s Radio Days. Comments? Suggestions?

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction: Episode 1

January 17, 2018

David Letterman’s new monthly Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction features President Barrack Obama and Rep. John Lewis as his first guests. Streaming now on Netflix, this show is a must-see not so much for the content, but for the way it will make you feel. I had a visceral reaction watching President Obama walk out on stage. I burst into tears. I grieve for the state this country is currently in due to the election of Donald J. Trump. But Rep. Lewis reminds us that this is simply a setback on the road to creating a better tomorrow. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Both inspirational as well as a reminder of how different the world is in 2018 with Trump in charge. If you want to feel good, watch Letterman’s show. It’s one hour of inspiration. Obama never had all the answers. But he knew how to lead and inspire. He followed rules and protocol and saw us through an economic recovery that was created by people like Trump. We have to stay positive and this first episode of the new Letterman show does just that.

Chelsea: Season 2

December 20, 2017

It’s weird saying goodbye to Chelsea Handler’s show, Chelsea on Netflix. I’ve been a fan since the very first episode. I never watched her original shows on network TV. I did catch her series of documentaries, Chelsea Does she created for Netflix. That made me excited for her latest incarnation. I love her irreverence and also her honesty. When she started getting political during last year’s election cycle, I was hooked. This year she made it her goal to not only entertain, but to educate. And she succeeded, hosting politicians and pundits for every conceivable topic. She focused on women. She should be very proud of the work she’s done this past year plus. She leaves Netflix not to begin another financial adventure, but to team up with Emily’s List and get people out to vote for pro-choice women Democratic candidates in 2018 and beyond.

Bravo girl. You do us proud. The comedic sketches may have been lame most of the time, but your interviews were amazing and your work added a gut punch to the horrors of those in office on the right. 4.5 out of 5. Best of luck in your new journey.

(BPM) Beats Per Minute (trailer)

December 1, 2017

I couldn’t let World AIDS Day 2017 go by without mentioning the brand-new French film, (BPM) Beats Per Minute. It’s the film I’m most excited about seeing this year.

Indiewire calls it “the Most Authentically Queer Film of the Awards Season.”
France selected it as their entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards this year.
Glenn Kenny at Roger Ebert’s site said, “Even if you consider yourself reasonably well-versed in the history, “BPM” is a kind of wake-up call, a cinematic alarm against complacency.”
Rotten Tomatoes gives Beats Per Minute (BPM) a 98% rating.
Check out BPM’s official site.
Watch the BPM trailer on YouTube. 
BPM screens this Sunday, December 3, 2017 in Hartford, CT, a co-presentation with REAL ART WAYS and Out Film CT.

World AIDS Day 2017

December 1, 2017

This year in first-world countries we can finally say people living with HIV who are compliant with their medication and maintain an undetectable viral load can not transmit the virus to their partners. Think about that for a moment. It’s game changing. Read the Washington Post article featuring my friend Michael Mitchell and his husband Mark S. King.

HIV negative people who take PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) have a stronger line of defense to keep themselves negative. In fact, the NYC Health Department is saying PrEP use and compliance contributed to the lowest HIV infection rates in history during 2016.

There’s a lot to be grateful for this year in HIV/AIDS news.

Read previous World AIDS Day posts from Reel Charlie:
2011 (the first year I posted)

Below find my favorite films that focus on HIV and AIDS.  Some are feature films, some documentaries, 2 are musicals:

The Adventures of Felix – celebratory French film about a young HIV+ man embracing life on the new medication in the mid-90’s.
And the Band Played On – based on journalist Randy Shilts’s book.
Angels in America – based on the award-winning play from Tony Kushner.
All About My Mother – one of the (still) few films using AIDS themes from a female perspective – an Almodovar classic.
Before I Forget – French film about an aging HIV+ male hustler.
Blue – Derek Jarman’s meditation on his AIDS diagnosis and imminent death.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt – Academy Award winning documentary on the AIDS Quilt.
Dallas Buyers Club – a straight-identified man starts one of the first buyers clubs in the U.S. bringing experimental drugs into the United States from other countries.
Days – Italian film about a sero-discordant couple (one HIV+, one HIV-).
Holding the Man – based on the true story. Two guys fall in love in 1970’s Australia.
How to Survive a Plague – outstanding documentary on the history of ACT-UP.
Jeffrey – explores the tension around gay men and sex during the AIDS crisis.
Longtime Companion – Hollywood film about NYC gay men dealing with the worst of the AIDS crisis.
The Normal Heart – HBO adaptation from Ryan Murphy of Larry Kramer’s award-winning play.
Parting Glances – Steve Bucemi’s break-out performance as a punk rock HIV+ gay man in NYC.
Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End (only released on VHS) – amazing documentary on the final days of writer Paul Monette.
Poison – Todd Haynes Queer Cinema classic.  Very experimental. Included on the disk and in the review is the short Last Address, an 8 minute film focusing on NYC buildings by director Ira Sachs.
Postcards from America – based on artist David Wojnarowicz’s life and writing.
Rent – the film based on the hit Broadway musical.
Sex in an Epidemic – documentary about the AIDS crisis in the United States.
Sex Positive – documentary of the evolution of “safer sex”.
Test – beautiful indie film about a young dancer in San Francisco deciding whether to take the new HIV test in the early 1980’s.
Vito – biopic on Vito Russo who wrote the seminal work on queer film, The Celluloid Closet and left us way to early from AIDS.
We Were Here – intimate documentary focusing on several people who witnessed the early plague years in San Francisco.
Zero Patience – John Greyson’s musical about AIDS.  still so out there and revolutionary.

Follow Reel Charlie’s Health category for future postings.
Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Barbara who loves sharing her birthday with World AIDS Day.

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