Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

Deep Water

May 23, 2017

Australia’s 4-part mini series Deep Water based on the “real life hate murders of… up to 80 gay men in Sydney’s eastern suburbs (Bondi) beaches in the 1970s and ’80s” (Wikipedia)  might be a hard sell if the quality of production wasn’t so thoughtful. There was a documentary produced in addition to the mini-series. Starring Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Noah Taylor as the detectives who link a gruesome reality of homophobic hate crimes and murders that continued through the present. The current killings are linked to the past as Stone’s Tori Lustigman uncovers a vast ritual of gay bashings dating back 30-40 years ago. Tori’s interest in the case goes from professional to personal jeopardizing the investigation at several key points. Deep Water creates a quiet, steady police procedural eschewing theatrics for methodical detective work which pays off in the end and makes the series easy to watch. Actor Jeremy Lindsay Taylor gives good eye candy as Tori’s friend Oscar who we find deeply connected to the past and puts himself into jeopardy to find answers. No denying the subject matter is difficult. The production respectfully honors the story with a steady, kind heart. 4 out of 5.

I watched Deep Water on DVD from the library. Netflix has it on DVD as well and it’s available streaming through Acorn TV.

‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’ Trailer: Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman Protect Their Own in Jane Campion’s Sequel (Indiewire)

May 12, 2017

Oooh, Top of the Lake is coming back with a Season 2! This time Elizabeth Moss stars with Nicole Kidman. I can’t wait for this one! From Indiewire,

It’s been four years since we last saw Elisabeth Moss’ Detective Robin Griffin, and it looks like quite a bit has changed. New faces and a new case dominate the first trailer for “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” Jane Campion’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed limited series.

Moss returns as Griffin, a mother still reeling from giving up her daughter at birth, and in a disconcerting twist, Nicole Kidman plays Mary’s adoptive mother.

“Top of the Lake: China Girl” premieres in September on SundanceTV. Episodes will be made available via Hulu the day after they air.

Read Reel Charlie’s review of Top of the Lake: Season 1
Read the full article on Indiewire


April 11, 2017

Finally saw Lion now that it’s being released this week streaming and on disk. Some people live extraordinary lives simply because of their life circumstances. That’s certainly true for Saroo Brierley, the real man Lion is based on. It’s hard to believe Saroo survived getting lost at such a young age. Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel play Saroo brilliantly 25 years apart. The strong story got lost a bit in the melodrama of the film. No doubt Lion is a tear-jerker of a movie. For my taste I would have enjoyed tighter editing and a little less drama as the elder Saroo falls apart trying to discover his roots. All that said, I enjoyed the film and understand how it worked its magic on so many. Family means many things to many people. Lion proved the pull can be strong, even overwhelming. 3.5 out of 5.

On a side note, I adore Nicole Kidman. Not sure if I ever mentioned that here on Reel Charlie. She always strikes the best notes for me.

Pride of Australia, Ben Mendelsohn beats out GoT actors to win an Emmy (Mashable)

September 19, 2016
Actor and Aussie legend Ben Mendelsohn took home an Emmy for his role in Bloodline. Image: WireImage Vera Anderson/WireImage

Actor and Aussie legend Ben Mendelsohn took home an Emmy for his role in Bloodline.
Image: WireImage Vera Anderson/WireImage

If  you’re a big fan of Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul (which I also love!), House of Cards, or Ray Donovan you might be pissed off a bit at last night’s Emmy Awards. But if you’re a fan of Bloodline like I am, you’re probably thrilled that actor Ben Mendelsohn took home Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Danny Rayburn on the Netflix series Bloodline.

Congrats Ben and thanks for giving us two seasons of goose bump shivering performance as the evil and vengeful Danny Rayburn. Bloodline’s third and final season streams on Netflix in 2017.

Read the full article on Mashable.

Reel Charlie’s reviews of Bloodline: Season 1 and Season 2.

Holding the Man

August 16, 2016

holding the manSpoiler alerts: Australian love story based on the novel by Timothy Conigrave, Holding the Man tells the true story of Tim and John who fall in love during high school in late 1970’s Melbourne, Australia . Their 15 year relationship sees the embrace of the modern gay rights movement as well as the horror of the AIDS crisis. Conigrave wrote the book as a love letter to John after he died of AIDS related symptoms in Sydney where they lived together. Tim also died of AIDS ten days after completing the book in 1994. Published the following year, Holding the Man has been recognized as one of the 100 best Australian novels by the Australian Society of Authors. Director Neil Armfield and screenwriter Tommy Murphy do a fantastic job transferring the book to screen. Ryan Corr’s Tim and Craig Stott’s John are natural actors who hold the drama of the film together and hold their own with popular Australian actors in supporting roles including as Guy Pierce, Geoffrey Rush, and Anthony LaPaglia. It was difficult watching Holding the Man for several reasons. First it reminded me how unsupported we all were by our families before and even during the AIDS crisis. It reminded me of reality checks I had to give my own parents during the course of our adult relationship together. I was lucky they evolved. Not everyone’s parents did or have. But the pain is a difficult emotion to conjure watching the film. John’s death to AIDS was graphic and brought back memories of the long road to where we are now. And also reminded me of my own survivor’s guilt. These two young men – all they wanted to do was love and live their lives together. A tender reminder of what we went through during those never-ending darkest of days. My only complaint of the film is the music. Some of the songs played as part of the scenes didn’t match up to the release years. Someone was lazy. And by lazy I mean the person in charge of that task didn’t google release dates. Neither of the mother characters were particularly memorable or strong, something I think wouldn’t gel with personal experiences. Those issues aside, I liked Holding the Man and think it’s an important piece of cinema history adding to the beautiful canon of Australian film. Great job. 4 out of 5.


July 13, 2016

lantanaThe 2001 Australian gothic noir Lantana stands strong after fifteen years. Based on Andrew Bovell’s play and assisted by an outstanding cast including Anthony LaPaglia, Barbara Hershey, Geoffery Rush, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake,Russell Dykstra, Daniela Farinacci, Peter Phelps, Leah Purcell, and Glenn Robbins. Moody script, eerie score all adds up to a suspenseful ride into the minds and dysfunction of a group of connected residents of suburban Sydney. Could have fleshed out the gay male character a bit more, but I was grateful for his presence. No one really gets clear answers other than relying on fate or chance or luck as they roll the dice of life. Lantana proves a solid example of Australian cinema. 4 out of 5.

Gay Romantic Drama ‘Holding The Man’ Chronicles 15 Years of Love and Loss (Towleroad)

April 30, 2016

Are we ready to look back 30 years and uncover the innocence of first love and the horrific loss and sadness of the AIDS crisis? To a time when couples in their 20’s and 30’s separated because of death. Am I ready? Australian indie film Holding the Man hopes so. From Towleroad,

A new trailer for the romantic gay drama Holding The Man has debuted and, if the teaser is any indication, it looks to be a tear jerker.

The film follows two young men who meet and fall in love at school as boys. Their relationship grows and lasts over 15 years as each struggles to deal with bigotry, family intolerance, and growing up.

Holding The Man is based on the 1995 memoir of the same name by by Australian writer, actor, and activist Timothy Conigrave. Conigrave passed away a year before the book would be published. It would also go on to be adapted as a play.

Watch the trailer.
Read the full article.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries

April 27, 2016

doctor blake mysteriesI brought home the first disk of the Australian murder-mystery, The Doctor Blake Mysteries from the library this week. I figured murder-mystery set in Australia during 1959 – could be quite fun. Unfortunately I fell asleep during the first episode. The Doctor Blake Mysteries feels too pat, too ordinary. And to be honest, I’m sick of these characters having to face their drinking problems. If the writers want them to drink to excess, why not just have that be part of their character? Why does every character have to face the music eventually? Doctor Blake’s certainly not awful, but it failed to create the tension and suspense I love when these mysteries are really good. 2 out of 5. Next.

Kylie Minogue – 100 Degrees

November 21, 2015

I was going to post-date this for after Thanksgiving next week because people at work have already been giving me grief for starting Christmas too early, but this news simply cannot wait. If you’re a fan of international pop music, you know Kylie Minogue released her Christmas cd, Kylie Christmas on November 13, 2015. It’s received mixed reviews because as we’ve come to know in the age of the Internet, haters got to hate. I’ve had the cd in my car (old school) all week listening to half of a track here and there (I have no long commutes). So today I finally got a chance to get to the song I’ve been waiting for – 100 Degrees, Kylie’s collaboration with her sister Dannii on what can only be described as the best Christmas Disco song released since Salsoul Orchestra produced their Christmas Jollies album back in 1976. 100 Degrees conjures up images of me swirling and twirling around the dance floor blissfully happy and hopeful for a more perfect world. At any time of the year, but especially in light of the tragedies recently in Paris and Mali, don’t we deserve some unbridled hope and joy?

Watch the studio version of Kylie’s 100 Degrees featuring sister Dannii Minogue.

Queer cinema doesn’t need to be more ‘mainstream’ (Daily Life)

September 15, 2015

Must-read article from Australian queer writer Matilda Douglas-Henry on Daily Life about the importance of authentic LGBT film making that doesn’t concern itself with appealing to the masses. From Daily Life,

The queer community need to be recognized and normalized, rather than othered. With this many films in the mainstream eye, surely that would be a good thing. Right?

Well, not really. I saw Holding the Man last weekend, off the back of some ho-hum reviews from friends, and rave reviews from critics. Yet I was reeling from how disappointing it was. The film completely disrespected the poignant subtlety of Conigrave’s memoir. But, to be fair, I had already judged the film by its poster. Or, more specifically, the tagline: “a love story for everyone”.

Why must queer films cater to ‘everyone’? Creating a queer narrative – while always keeping a mainstream audience in mind – completely compromises the material and integrity of the film. Movies that are praised as significant or groundbreaking end up perpetuating troubling tropes, rather than defying them. The desire of production houses for queer films to appeal to ‘everyone’ is arguably the key reason queer cinema is still lagging.

Another major issue – especially with lesbian characters – is the hyper-sexualization, and/or trivializing, of their sexual identity. Think Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan where Natalie Portman’s character has sex with Mila Kunis’s, only to realize it was a dream. In Birdman, the only two substantial female characters (aside from the protagonist’s mother and daughter) Lesley (Naomi Watts) and Laura (Andrea Riseborough) kiss passionately, apropos of nothing – prior to which they had barely spoken.

The derogatory stereotyping we regularly face – even in 2015 – encourages a lazy audience, and an unreliable one. Mainstream viewers and critics alike compromise their real opinions in the face of queer content. Holding the Man, for example, is a mess. Yet it has a 92 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and everyone is talking about it as the most powerful Australian film in recent memory. The glowing reviews appear to be delivered by hetero people, who feel it’s not their place to criticize the integrity of the film. Those who were furious at the Academy for not awarding Brokeback Mountain Best Picture were mainly straight, white, privileged figures, much like the Academy itself. If we’ve got straight critics reviewing queer films, we’ve also got said critics dictating what makes a ‘good’ queer film.

Douglas-Henry ends the article on a high note citing her interest in seeing Lily Tomlin’s new film Grandma which is currently playing locally here in CT. Fingers crossed I get to it this weekend after my move.

The logic behind this article is the reason why you won’t find Brokeback Mountain or Philadelphia on Reel Charlie’s Favorite Gay Films list. Both films were made for straight audiences – Philadelphia to empathize with AIDS (early on in the epidemic), and Brokeback Mountain – to understand the devastation of the closet. To both films’ credit, they succeed. They are good films. For the mass hetero audiences, many feel they are great films. They’re just not made for queer audiences. In other words they’re not my films. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as there’s also room and financing available for queer films for queer audiences and non-queers interested in other cultures now and in the future. Whenever the question comes up as to why someone would want to read or watch a LGBT novel or film, I simple remind them one of my favorite films is Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding. It has nothing to do with my reality. I’m not South Asian, I’m not heterosexual. Okay maybe the chubby younger brother is a queerling, but that aside, most of the story is a celebration of heterosexual love within the caste. Still I love Nair’s creation because of the universal themes she creates without having to infuse her film with Europeans. She didn’t compromise. And it works. It’s a more authentic film because I experience her world without it being watered down.

I’m also really looking forward to the more mainstream Todd Haynes/Phyllis Nagy collaboration, Carol due in theaters November 20, 2015. And Ron Nyswaner’s new mainstream film Freehold due in theaters October 2, 2015. Mainstream isn’t automatically bad. Fingers crossed for the lesbian blockbusters this season.

Read the entire article at Daily Life.
Hat tip to Wolfe Video who posted this on Facebook.

%d bloggers like this: