Archive for the ‘Camp’ Category

History of the World, Part II

March 11, 2023

Over forty years ago, Mel Brooks was on a roll. His seventh directed film, History of the World, Part I, made a lot of money. I remember loving his films. Today, I’m not so sure they would hold up. Perhaps moments, but an entire movie? Probably not. Someone at Hulu decided to create a sequel, History of the World, Part II which follows the Mel Brooks format precisely. Lots of sight gags and irreverent scenarios. I tried watching this new incarnation. I chuckled at Abraham Lincoln hitting his head over and over again. I chuckled at the youngest Romanov child as an influencer. And that was about it. My sense of humor has evolved over my lifetime. Not saying Mel’s humor is any less sophisticated than something that might make me laugh out loud. Just saying it’s not my sense of humor. 2 out of 5. Next.

History of the World, Part II currently streams on Hulu.

7 Women and a Murder (7 donne e un mistero)

January 31, 2023

Italian locked room murder mystery and comedy, 7 Women and a Murder is a remake of the 2002 film 8 Women by François Ozon, and the play Huit femmes by Robert Thomas. Kooky, campy, silly and lots of fun, this film is a perfect antidote to a long week at work or a difficult time navigating the news. 7 Women boasts an impressive international cast including Margherita Buy (His Secret Life), Diana Del Bufalo, Sabrina Impacciatore, Benedetta Porcaroli, Micaela Ramazzotti, Luisa Ranieri and Ornella Vanoni. Full disclosure, I fell asleep during the ending (that’s happening more and more lately) and couldn’t figure out who the murderer was. So I will be rewinding some early evening this week to find out whodunnit. Meanwhile the rest of the film I was awake for was charming, silly, and made me laugh out loud in places. And it all takes place during Christmas! 3.5 out of 5 which means it’s may not be perfect, but it’s worth a try if the details interest you.

7 Women and a Murder currently streams on Netflix.
By the way, have you noticed the outstanding international content Netflix is purchasing? I’m very happy to see that.

American Horror Story: NYC (Season 11)

November 19, 2022

Spoiler alert: The good news is after eleven seasons, Ryan Murphy and crew produced an American Horror Story focused on gay men. The action happens in 1981 NYC as a mysterious illness begins circulating throughout the gay male community. There’s also a serial killer (maybe two) on the loose targeting gay men. Once the first killer is captured, I realized the second killer is not a killer, he’s the grim reaper. And he’s a giant bodybuilder in full leather. There lots of in-your-face gay content which Murphy’s become known for and I’m grateful for his matter-of-fact inclusion. As much as I like having some details kept amongst ourselves, I realize that’s very old school of me. What Murphy’s doing is showing gay, queer, LGBTQ culture in all of its forms which make the affection and love on the screen completely normal to most folks. Especially important as we continue to fight for equal rights around the country and the globe. Great cast including Russell Tovey, Joe Mantello, Billie Lourd, Denis O’Hare, Charlie Carver, Leslie Grossman, Sandra Bernhard, Isaac Powell, Zachary Quinto, Patti LuPone, Jeff Hiller, Rebecca Dayan, Matthew William Bishop, Kal Pennm and Casey Thomas Brown. Lots of heavy hitters, so the acting is first rate until the scripts went campy and silly in places. The final two episodes transitioned from serial killer as a metaphor for AIDS – to AIDS as a reality. Unfortunately, the lengthy montage felt too heavy handed. And I didn’t realize Joe Mantello’s character would morph into Larry Kramer. I wasn’t feeling that. I am not a fan of blood and gore, but I thought within the genre, they did a great job creating a period horror show using metaphor for the burgeoning AIDS crisis, and as I said, actual AIDS by the end of the season. Overall the season was uneven. But I do like a show that takes risks and they certainly did with AHS: NYC. Definitely a 3.5 or 4 in places, but overall a good even 3 out of 5.

American Horror Story currently streams on FX and Hulu.

We’re Here: Season 1

November 11, 2022

The third season of the docuseries, We’re Here premieres this month on HBO Max. The title refers to a chant my generation created in the 1990’s – “We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Used to It.” You can catch the first two seasons now. The premise is familiar. Three drags queens enter a small town and transform lives with their wisdom and performance. From HBO,

Follow renowned drag queens Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela as they continue their journey across small-town America, spreading love and connection through the art of drag.

I enjoyed the two episodes I watched of the first season. It’s fun, breezy, peppered with conflict from the town, and all gets wrapped up by the end of the episode. It’s the way the entire world should be. And why not dream it. If we can imagine it, then it is possible. Yes, there are more than comparisons to Priscilla and To Wong Fo. Let’s face it, this is a result of RuPaul’s success and the granddaughter of both movies combined. But that’s not a bad thing. Every generation needs a bit of glitter and transformation to thrust them forward. Bravo to the girls of We’re Here. I only stopped watching because the young man in episode 3 broke my heart. I am sure his story ended well, but I just couldn’t sit through another gay man expressing internalized homophobia by following the teachings of a church that hates gays. If anyone’s seen the episode and knows it ends well, let me know. 3.5 out of 5.

We’re Here currently streams on HBO Max.

The Bat (take 4 and now on Blu-ray)

October 31, 2022

Agnes Moorehead and Lenita Lane in The Bat (1959).

A perennial Halloween favorite. Now on Blu-ray, 1959’s The Bat makes for some silly and campy suspense murder mystery fun. Agnes Moorehead fans unite.
Click here to read the very first review in 2011. 
Click here to read the rest. 

Watch The Bat for free on YouTube.


October 13, 2022

First time watching Xanadu. I know – shocking. Right? Losing Olivia Newton-John this year bummed me out. She lived to be just shy of her 74th birthday. The second concert I ever went to was ONJ. I loved her country crossover albums of the early 70’s. I truly loved her pop albums of the mid-70’s. As we all know, she blew up from Grease. Xanadu was supposed to be her musical bookend. Boy did it fall flat. 29% liked it on Rotten Tomatoes. The most jarring problem with Xanadu is that the songs were played like a club. Even if Olivia sang the song, often they wouldn’t have her lip sync because her film partner wasn’t singing the male role. Awkward. So her character’s roller skating with Michael Beck (her love interest) while she and Cliff Richard sing away on the speakers. WTF? This is not a musical. And speaking of WTF, what the fuck was Gene Kelly thinking? Did he want one last hurrah? Did he think he could bring the 40’s musical into the 80’s? Michael Beck, was generic and certainly not memorable. The entire film is one big mess. On the plus side, the costuming was great – very New Wave/Punk in certain scenes. I think hiring Electric Light Orchestra was a huge mistake. Whatever style of music they fall into, it’s not pop ballads, and it’s not New Wave roller skating music. Poor Olivia. She sure didn’t strike gold a second time after Grease. 2 out of 5. Next.

Xanadu currently streams on various platforms for a rental fee or on disk from your local public library.
Read The Guardian’s review of Xanadu at 40: a mesmerisingly messy musical failure.
Read all about Olivia Newton-John.

Reel Charlie Speaks – Episode 5: Reluctant Halloween

October 11, 2022

In episode 5 of Reel Charlie Speaks, the podcast spin-off of Reel Charlie, a film and television review blog, I explore all things Halloween from the perspective of someone who’s not a huge Halloween lover, nor am I a huge viewer of gore and violence. So this episode reveals some of the best movies and television where the focus is on camp and suspense, rather than blood and guts.

Browse everything Halloween on Reel Charlie.
Correction: I know The Shining‘s star is Jack Nicholson, not Lemmon, although maybe that would have been funnier.

All About Evil

October 1, 2022

Three years before Orange is the New Black premiered, and and nine years before Russian Doll stormed Netflix, Nathasha Lyonne starred in the B-movie horror flick, All About Evil along with Mink Stole, Cassandra Peterson, and Thomas Dekker. From Google,

A mousy woman inherits an old movie house and starts making a series of grisly shorts, but her fans do not realize that the murders in the films are all real.

Directed by Peaches Christ, the San Francisco drag persona of Josh Grinnel, All About Evil reminds me of early John Waters films with a bit more sophistication. 12 years later, the film has its Blu-ray remastered release. I realized early on, I am not the audience for this film. It’s campy, outrageous, revolting, silly, and most of all fun. If you’re in the mood for camp, B-movie horror, keep this one in mind as we move into the Halloween season. 2.9 out of 5 (that means I didn’t like it, but it’s a good representation of its genre).

All About Evil currently streams on The Roku Channel, Amazon Prime, Sling TV,and YouTube TV, and is available on Blu-ray disk from your public library.

Feud: Bette and Joan

July 27, 2022

I’ve been waiting five years to watch the Ryan Murphy limited series, Feud about the relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Somehow the series got lost after it premiered on FX in 2017. I’ve been impatient ever since and finally Hulu picked it up. Jessica Lange disappears into Joan Crawford. I forgot what a great actress Susan Sarrandon is after her political meltdowns over the past few years. The two of them together are a tour de force of talent and emotion. Feud is the best combination of feel-good fun and outstanding acting. The rest of the cast also blew me away including:

Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland
Alfred Molina as Robert Aldrich
Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner
Kiernan Shipka as B. D. Merrill
Jackie Hoffman stealing every scene she’s in as Mamacita
Dominic Burgess as Victor Buono
Sarah Paulson all too briefly as Geraldine Page
Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell
John Rubinstein as George Cukor
John Waters as William Castle
Cameron Dye as Don Bachardy

So many nods to gay men with Victor Buono and his crazy opening lines to Bette Davis, John Rubenstein as George Cukor, and Cameron Dye as Christopher Isherwood’s long term partner Don Bachardy who sketches Bette’s portrait towards the end of the series.

Feud packs a lot into each episode. Keep your phone handy to look up actors or directors you sort of know but need more background on. Jessica and Susan carry the show gorgeously. There’s not a weak note in the ten episodes. Murphy’s really got an eye and a pen for writing these incredible historical pieces on Old Hollywood. And think about it. The premise of much of the series revolves around Bette and Joan being in their mid to late 50’s and not being able to find decent work. Today Murphy hires all sorts of older female actresses proving that the prime of one’s life can be anytime, not just youth. Can’t get enough of the drama, the inside look, the glamour, the pain, and the triumph of Feud. 4.5 out of 5.

Feud: Bette and Joan currently streams on Hulu.

Fire Island

June 16, 2022

Don’t need to say much about the indie darling Summer 2022 rom-com Fire Island other than WATCH IT! It exceeded all of my expectations. I was hoping it was fun. Check. Sweet. Check. But then it just kept getting better. And better. It’s silly in places, stupid in a few as a nod to the Rom-Com genre. It’s also inclusive and poignant and romantic and full of hope. Writer star Joel Kim Booster hit it out of the park with this delightful distraction from our collapsing democracy. And boy do we need some breaks from that train wreck. Fire Island joins a very small list of sweet, happy, sexy, silly, romantic, hopeful gay male films who dared to take on the Rom-Com genre and turn it out. Simply amazing. 5 out of 5.

Fire Island currently streams on Hulu.

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