Archive for the ‘Best of lists’ Category

Do I Love Musicals?

October 18, 2017

Could it be my gay DNA has been working all along? I always say I’m not a fan of musicals. I hated La La Land. I also hated the idea of (because I’ve never actually seen them) Cats, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Showboat, Jersey Boys, Chicago, Kiss Me Kate, Rock of Ages, and South Pacific.

But then I started thinking today about musicals. About doing a program at work featuring musicals. About somehow getting my friends involved who are obsessed with musicals. I have yet to see (which I want to see) Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Wicked, Les Miz, Avenue Q, or Spring Awakening.

I thought about my life. To some extent, I grew up on musicals. And no, I’m not talking about The Partridge Family, smart ass. I’m talking actual musicals and their film adaptations. Each year we watched The Wizard of Oz and White Christmas on TV. Religiously.

I knew all the words to all the songs in both films. I discovered set design and pizzazz from Oz and my first real diva moment with Rosemary Clooney singing Irving Berlin’s Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me. But was the little gay boy in me spending more time watching Rosemary or George Chakiris? Probably a little of both.

As a devout Catholic teen, when I wasn’t spending time being an altar boy, lector, cantor, or playing guitar in folk mass, I was listening to and memorizing all the words to Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell.

Of course I totally freaked out when Everything’s Alright and other songs from the Superstar soundtrack showed up prominently in the fourth season of Transparent. Apparently I wasn’t the only one grooving on these tunes in the 70’s. And is it me or does anyone else think that Godspell has a Manson family vibe to it? Maybe I watch too many serial killer TV shows. Streaming Mindhunter as we speak. One thing’s for sure, Jesus in Godspell had the original Jewfro. Whew doggie!

So in 1976, I finally went to New York City and saw my first musical on Broadway: The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills. I clearly remember being in awe of the entire show, but when the curtain rose on Emerald City, I was in green sparkle heaven. Stunning. The film adaptation really paled in comparison. Diana Ross was more than a bit long in the tooth playing Dorothy at 34.

Around the same time, I obsessed over the luminous Barbra Streisand and the smooth skinned hunkiness of Kris Kristofferson in the third film adaptation of A Star is Born. Another huge favorite of mine. Another soundtrack I had memorized completely.

And then adulthood beckoned. Or at least college. While off discovering higher education, I also came across Blake Edwards incredible film, Victor Victoria. To this day, I continue to love and worship Victor and Victoria. Le Jazz Hot stands out as one of the best shiver-inducing numbers from a musical ever. Mary Poppins sets off a 3 alarm fire.

And a few years later there was this: Jennifer Holliday in Dream Girls. And I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going continues to give me chills and brings tears to my eyes. Even today when I watched it. Simply one of the best moments in Broadway history. Screaming along with Effie each and every time.

When did I discover The Rocky Horror Picture Show? During college? Probably. Maybe after. I can’t recall. But I fell hard for this surface silly ode to being yourself. Such a great message wrapped up in a deeply moving gender-bender show of delight. As annoying and destructive as Susan Sarandon was during last year’s presidential election, I still love Over at the Frankenstein Place the best from the deliciously deviant soundtrack.

The AIDS crisis years brought us Rent. I had the honor of seeing it twice on Broadway (thanks Jane). I still tear up whenever I hear Seasons of Love.

AIDS also brought us Zero Patience which continues to be an absolute joy to me. If you want to see a truly unique, smart, and independent musical, check out John Greyson’s Zero Patience: “tell the story of my life.”

Later I had an opportunity to witness the miracle of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with John Cameron Mitchell at the Jane Street Theater before it became a film and an actual Broadway musical. That evening was the first night I wore my baby blue eyeglasses.

And recently I had the honor of seeing Fun Home with a bunch of super fun co-workers. What a treat. The depth of this musical – I never thought in my lifetime I’d see something so beautiful. So sad, so celebratory, so lesbian. Thank you Alison Bechdel for sharing your remarkable life story with us.

There have been others over the years. Actual stage musicals, film adaptations, and just plain films with songs. Additional favorites include 42nd Street, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Cabaret, Cabin in the Sky, Carmen Jones, Funny GirlMoulin Rouge, The Music ManStorm Weather, A Star is Born (Judy Garland), and Tommy. 

And I haven’t even begun to talk about television shows with musical numbers in them. Guess I’ll save that for another post.

So in conclusion, I need to stop pooh poohing musicals. Sure the big formulaic Broadway ones are boring. But no less boring than big Hollywood films or pop music that’s more about the bank than the heart. Great musicals bring a sense of magic and wonder to stories. They take you out of your world, take you out of your blues. And for a brief moment you’re a star, belting out the best damn song ever written.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I’d love to know what your favorites are – stage, screen or even small screen!

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25 Films With the Best Cinematography of the 21st Century (Indiewire)

October 8, 2017

Get your big ass 4K television fired up because Indiewire‘s posted the 25 most beautiful films of the 21st Century. The past 17 years has produced a gorgeous body of work from cinematographers worldwide. From Indiewire,

Cinematography is tough to judge on its own merits, because it can be hard to extract it from the other powers of great visual storytelling. At the same time, every beautiful movie shows the signature of a talented director of photography as much as a filmmaker. In the process of considering the finest cinematographic achievements of this decade, this list includes on gorgeous films that — in some cases — achieve more on the level of cinematography than anything else. The past two decades have found the craft of cinematography making extraordinary advances on the level of digital technologies and other innovations, but at the end of the day, these particulars matter less than the sheer impression left by the images and movements captured by cinematographers operating at the peak of their abilities.

Included in the list are Reel Charlie favorites Moonlight, The Great Beauty, Carol, Hero, Mr. Turner, Children of Men, Far from Heaven (a second Todd Haynes and Ed Lachman collaboration!), and In the Mood for Love.

See the full list of films at Indiewire.

The 15 Best Monster Movies of the 21st Century (Indiewire)

October 8, 2017

I’m not big on Monster Movies, but it is October so I thought it best to broaden my horizons at least in a post. From Indiewire,

From a certain perspective, monster movies might not seem to be as relevant during monstrous times. But in an age when our fears seem larger than life and the world constantly seems as though it’s on the brink of collapse, the best examples of the genre can almost assume a documentary-like authenticity, reflecting our reality as vividly as vérité ever could.

The list does include a Reel Charlie favorite, The Cabin in the Woods.
See the full list at Indiewire.

The Criterion Collection: Reel Charlie’s Top 17

September 15, 2017

Whenever I see a famous person list their favorite Criterion films, I wonder what my list would look like? I took a shot at this back in 2012. Criterion’s been adding films monthly so my favorites list is ever-evolving. Currently I have a list of 17 must-see films from Criterion’s Collection. If you have access to Kanopy, you can see these films any time.

Reel Charlie’s 17 favorite Criterion releases (in alpha order):

All That Heaven Allows
A Christmas Tale
Desert Hearts
Fox and His Friends
Howards End
The Ice Storm
In the Mood for Love
Monsoon Wedding
My Beautiful Laundrette
Nashville
Rebecca
A Room With a View
Rosemary’s Baby
Safe
The Times of Harvey Milk
Weekend (Haigh)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

 

Honorable Mention:

Being There
Boyhood
Brazil
Do the Right Thing
Fish Tank
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty
Grey Gardens
La haine
The Lady Eve
Mildred Pierce
Shallow Grave
Three Colors: Blue
Valley of the Dolls

Explore all Criterion films at their website.

The 20 Best LGBTQ Movies of the 21st Century (Indiewire)

September 5, 2017

From Indiewire,

“Moonlight.” “The Handmaiden.” “Carol.” The last few years have not only brought LGBTQ films and stories further into the mainstream, but queer films have dominated awards seasons and found commercial success. This has been a long time coming: The New Queer Cinema was a major influence on the indie film boom of the ’90s, and set the bar high for the many queer films to follow.

From the list of 20, Reel Charlie favorites include,

Far From Heaven
Pariah
Tarnation
Milk
I Killed My Mother
The Kids Are All Right
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Tangerine
Weekend
Stranger by the Lake
Carol
Moonlight

Click on the film titles above to read Reel Charlie’s reviews.
Read Reel Charlie’s Best Gay Films 2010 – 2015.
See the complete list at Indiewire.

A Timeline of (Nearly) Every LGBT Couple in TV History (Out)

September 2, 2017

Journey through the American television timeline for a look at the favorite LGBT couples of all time.  Including Reel Charlie favorites,

Willow & Tara (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 2000)
David & Keith (Six Feet Under, 2001)
Ben & Michael (Queer as Folk, 2002)
Dana & Alice (The L Word, 2004)
Jenny & Marina (The L Word, 2004) – ok, seriously anyone and Marina.
Omar & Renaldo (The Wire, 2006)
Tasha & Alice (The L Word, 2007)
Rick & Steve (Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, 2007)
Lafayette & Jesus (True Blood, 2010)
Kurt & Blaine (Glee, 2011)
Tara & Pam (True Blood, 2012)
Stef & Lena (The Fosters, 2013)
Piper & Alex (Orange is the New Black, 2013)
Patrick & Richie (Looking, 2014)
Sarah & Tammy (Transparent, 2014)
Dom & Lynn (Looking, 2014)
Augustin & Eddie (Looking, 2015)
Connor & Jude (The Fosters, 2015)
Nomi & Amanita (Sense8, 2015)
Lito & Hernando (Sense8, 2015)

Clicking on the couple takes you to their slide at Out.com.
Clicking on the series title takes you to Reel Charlie’s review.
109 couples in total. Who’re your favorites? See the full list at Out.

Every Song of the Summer Since 1958 (MetroLyrics – YouTube)

September 1, 2017

Before we say goodbye to summer next weekend, let’s take a look at MetroLyrics summer songs from 2017 back to 1958. A fun if not perfect list including Reel Charlie favorites:

1990: Mariah Carey
1985: Tears for Fears
1981: Rick Springfield
1979: Donna Summer
1970: The Carpenters
1968: Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass
1964: The Supremes

Missing: 1972: Partridge Family

Check out the YouTube video with the full list of music clips.

The 25 Best Showtime Series of All Time (Paste Magazine)

August 2, 2017

Paste Magazine ranks their top 25 favorite Showtime series. And Reel Charlie favs make the cut including,

13. The L Word
9. The United States of Tara
6. The Big C
5. Nurse Jackie
1. Queer as Folk

So happy to see Queer as Folk get its due. Click on the series titles above for Reel Charlie reviews of Season 1.

Read the full article on Paste.
What are you Showtime favorites?

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.

The 20 Best Foreign Films On Netflix (Decider)

June 29, 2017

Decider offers you 20 great foreign-language films to add to your Netflix queue. From Decider,

Sometimes, expanding your horizons can be exactly the thing you need to revitalize your Netflix queue, and those horizons can exist all the way across the Atlantic sea. Some of the best films of the last twenty years have come out of countries from all over the world, and luckily, a lot of them are available to stream.

The platform is fully stocked with more options than you could ever imagine; Spanish-language films, Bollywood hits, and Korean horror are just some of the massive selection available to you. You can be in pretty much any mood and find something that will satisfy your streaming needs, and subtitles are bound to fade away as you get sucked into the stunning variety of cultures that await you.

Included in the mix are two gay male films Esteros and Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? I’ve add those two plus Asoka, The Propaganda Game, Girlhood, and Train to Busan.

Check out the complete list at Decider.


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