Archive for the ‘Adaptation’ Category

The Little Foxes

October 4, 2017

Every so often, I watch a classic film for the first time and get blown away. Such was the case with The Little Foxes. Talent lives in every inch of this movie. The remarkable cast includes Bette Davis, Teresa Wright, Herbert Marshall, Richard Carlson, Dan Duryea, and Patricia Collinge (two years away from reuniting with Teresa Wright in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt). Directed by the luminous William Wyler (The Best Years of Our LivesThe Heiress, Funny Girl), screenplay by Lillian Hellman with additional scenes and dialogue written by Arthur Kober, Dorothy Parker, and Alan Campbell, and music by Meredith Willson, with costume design by Orry-Kelly. But honestly it’s the writing and delivery which makes this film so strong, so lasting. Nearly every minute captivated me. Not an easy task for a 75-year-old work. The Little Foxes does that and more. It rises above melodrama and Southern stereotypes to become that illusive perfect classic film. 5 out of 5 for the Bette Davis masterpiece.

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Baywatch (2017)

August 28, 2017

I know, I know. But Dwayne Johnson is scorchingly hot. And if you don’t agree, that just leaves more of his massive body for me. Meanwhile, the Baywatch film based on the popular television series ran predictable, with lots of dirty jokes and virtually no sex. It was fun for a while. In the end, of course my snooty film snob self overtook my rabid smooth muscle lustinator and I turned off the film around 2/3 of the way to the finish. It’s not bad bad. It’s not camp bad. It’s just Hollywood: 69 million dollars worth of explosions and taint jokes. Why do most of these films feel like they are made for 11 year-old boys? Answer: because they are. 2.5 out of 5 for the Rock as Hasselhoff Baywatch.

Best line: Mitch Buchannon: “You going night-night, bitch.”

Watch Three Clips from the Gay Drama ‘Beach Rats’, Due Out This Friday (Towleroad)

August 22, 2017

I’ve heard buzz this year about the new indie film, Beach Rats. Now that it’s being released in theaters this Friday, there’s more news including three new clips released on Towleroad today. From the earlier blurbs on various websites, I wasn’t interested in watching a negative film about coming out. Should filmmakers be able to make work without happy ever after endings? Absolutely. From Towleroad,

Wrote on commenter on Towleroad (andrewd215) a month ago (possible SPOILERS):

I had Beach Rats as one of my must see movies when I went to the Provincetown Film Festival in June. After watching the movie I left wondering if they had shown a different version than the one I had read about getting all the praise. The film did a good job of drawing you into the character and the struggles he was going through, especially in the hyper sexual heterosexual normative male environment he was in. However, it was interesting at the conclusion of the movie to hear more than a few scattered boos but rather a good number and vocal comments among people as they stood to leave and walking out making comments such as “such a f**king cop out” and other like statements. It seems that among those most verbal, that an ambiguous ending for movie can be exceedingly frustrating after the build up the movie because the ambiguity of the ending was so complete and that it would be hard to have a discussion as to how Frankie’s life went from there. Maybe the harsh reactions at the end of the movie were because it showed the anguish, the angst, and his struggles but did not portray or provide that anything resulted from it all so that any dialogue would have to been abstract.

From what I remember about the movie the cruising that went on was a result of Frankie’s online cam site sessions, that in addition or rather than a JO session, lead to an arrangement to meet up. The active cruising scene was the exception but was the result of a failed hook up that lead him to approach a car in the hookup cruise parking area that lead to a very successful night of hot sex. I don’t think this movie is one that will reach people that need to be reached, or in pain and conflict or questioning their sexuality because of the ending of the film. If anything the movie will probably lead those in similar situations and environments to stay in the closet. At least in a 90’s coming out movie you had some idea that come out was a positive thing to do.

I will say that I’m not seeing (for now) Beach Rats. I can handle difficult films with ambiguous endings. I adore French cinema after all. But I’m too wrapped up in politics right now to deal with films that don’t at the very least offer a glimmer of hope to young gay characters. For similar reasons, I’m avoiding Call Me By Your Name. I read the book. Hated it. It’s a story about two straight-identified men who have an affair one summer and then go back to being straight. Whatever. Fluidity be damned. Maybe this story makes sense to hetero men who dipped their toe in the pool in their youth. If you’re going to show bisexuality, show it with satisfying and positive relationships on both sides of the sexual aisle. Otherwise, you’re simply reinforcing heteronormativity. Personally I rarely get to see myself on the screen. I’d rather not have to share it with a straight male’s interpretation of what a gay experience is. And to reinforce this interpretation, the director made a choice not to show any male/male intimacy. Just longing. Give me a freaking break.

Watch the Beach Rats clips.
Beach Rats trailer.

Call Me By Your Name trailer.

Victor Victoria (first time on Blu-ray)

August 13, 2017

Click on the image below to read Reel Charlie’s review of the timeless classic film, Victor Victoria.

Big Little Lies

August 8, 2017

HBO’s limited series, Big Little Lies based on the Liane Moriarty book packs a powerhouse of acting punch to the already crowded room of outstanding American television series. I have to say I was hesitant about wrapping myself up in a world so similar to the one I live in. Think of me being the male librarian background character who sees Shailene Woodley’s Jane on a semi-regular basis – Jane being the only character who doesn’t buy her books online. But wow, what a surprise this series ended up being. Reese Witherspoon acted crazy good as Madeline, Nicole Kidman continued showing off massive talent as Celeste, Laura Dern nailed a razor-sharp performance as Renata, and Zoe Kravitz floated as easy, breezy Bonnie. There’s been lots of talk this year about a woman’s gaze in television and film. Not sure if Big Little Lies falls into that category? The book was written by a woman, and the cast and stories are all female-centric. But the direction is Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) with screenplay by David E. Kelly. So it’s definitely not a female gaze. In the end, the mix makes for some very juicy, sophisticated story telling. I loved it. 4 out of 5 for Big Little Lies.

The Last Tycoon

August 3, 2017

After enjoying the pilot of Amazon Prime’s The Last Tycoon based on the unfinished novel from F. Scott Fitzgerald, I looked forward to the season one drop. Watched the first two episodes over the weekend. I certainly didn’t hate it. But the overall show felt dull to me. All the pieces were in place –  good actors, great period costumes and sets, a suspenseful, workable plot. In the end, I just didn’t care much about where the story headed or what happened to the characters. I wanted to love The Last Tycoon because I want to see Matt Bomer break some ceilings. I give this just under a 3 out of 5.

Shock to the System

July 29, 2017

The second Donald Strachey murder mystery adaptation, Shock to the System is as my late friend Bruce Kingsley said to me on Facebook, “much better than the first.” Based on the Richard Stevenson detective series, Shock to the System is number two of four books made into television films for HereTV. Chad Allen plays Strachey perfectly. Sebastian Spence plays Timmy, Don’s romantic partner. They live in Albany where Donald solves crimes. There’s nothing earth-shattering about the series other than the persona of Strachey follows a quiet, masculine appearance which older viewers may find refreshing. I’m giving this one a 3 out of 5. Decent detective murder-mystery fun.

Oops, almost forgot to mention Morgan Fairfield has a small role in this.

13 Essential LGBT Indies From the Post-‘Brokeback Mountain’ Era (Indiewire)

July 22, 2017

Good mainstream list of LGBT indies (I’d question a few of these titles being called “indies”) released after the success of Brokeback Mountain in 2005. Reel Charlie agrees with the following films from Indiewire’s list,

A Single Man
I Killed My Mother
Laurence Anyways
Tangerine
Stranger by the Lake
Pride
The Kids are All Right
Weekend
Carol

Missing from the list in order of release date 2006 –
Ha-Buah (The Bubble)
Shortbus
Avant que j’oublie (Before I Forget)

Clapham Junction
Itty Bitty Titty Committee
XXY
Were the World Mine
Hollywood je t’aime
Contracorriente (Undertow)
Bashment
Les amours imaginaires (Heartbeats)
Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannons)
Cloudburst
Pariah
I Do
Mommy is Coming
Freier Fall (Free Fall)
Interior.Leather Bar.
Reaching for the Moon
Test
The Way He Looks
Holding the Man
Moonlight
Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo

Remember these are indie films, so Milk doesn’t qualify for this list.
Does not include documentaries.
Culled from Wikipedia lists.

Read the full article on Indiewire.

Chewing Gum

July 16, 2017

Netflix’s British import, Chewing Gum combines an oddball hipster feel with a modern feminist premise. Tracey (Michaela Coel) is a 24 year-old religious woman, still a virgin who desperately wants to have sex. Her boyfriend would rather pray than play which frustrates Tracey and has her investigating a sexy, sweet neighbor in the premiere episode. Another interesting show that just didn’t grab me. Comedy as I’ve said many times is extremely subjective. Chewing Gum just didn’t make me laugh. If you like quirky, unique protagonists, you might want to give Chewing Gum a try. 2 out of 5.

Prime Suspect Tennison Season 1

July 12, 2017

The PBS DVDs always get mailed out to the library before the season is finished airing on television. Yea for me. I breezed through the entire season of Prime Suspect Tennison the prequel to Helen Mirren’s classic, award-winning seven-part detective series. In this incarnation, we find Jane Tennison at the very start of her career. I was so worried this wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. It did and more. I loved it. Young Jane played by Stefanie Martini steps into some enormous shoes embodying the character perfectly. By the second episode all thoughts of Mirren are out of mind. This is a retro 1973 brand-new Tennison. The good old boys don’t seem quite as harsh as mid-career. Of course that may have something to do with the fact that Jane is at the bottom of the rung making coffee and working dispatch. Other cast standouts include Sam Reid and Blake Harrison. The ground work gets laid for Jane’s idiosyncrasies and obsessions. Her work ethic appears to be from birth. She hits the ground running. Episode 5 explodes reminding the viewer this is British television. Anything’s possible. I loved Prime Suspect Tennison. 4 out of 5 for this welcome prequel.


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