Archive for the ‘Classic’ 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.

The Man Who Came to Dinner

March 15, 2018

I wish I had a category called “return to later” like I do with books on Goodreads I think are good, I’m just not in the mood to finish. Such is the fate of The Man Who Came to Dinner, a 1941 comedy based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart starring Monty Whoolley, Bette Davis, Billie Burke, and Mary Wickes. Woolley plays a famous author who gets stranded in a small Midwestern town and ends up alienating everyone around him. Classic film critic Steve Hayes felt Woolley’s character was the quintessential fussy urban gay man, which made me add this to my to watch list since I’m always looking for hidden classic film gems with LGBT content or in those days – LGBT implications. For some reason, after finishing about a quarter of the two-hour film, I lost interest. It’s a well-made film. It just didn’t speak to me. Perhaps another time. For now, I’m giving it a 3 out of 5. Next.

By the way, this is the last DVD I received from Netflix after cancelling my DVD subscription.

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents “Vertigo”: A Special 60th Anniversary Event (Fathom Events)

March 7, 2018

Vertigo comes to the big screen! From Fathom Events,

Considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest cinematic achievements, Vertigo is a dreamlike thriller from the Master of Suspense. Set in San Francisco, the film creates a dizzying web of mistaken identity, passion and murder after an acrophobic detective (James Stewart) rescues a mysterious blonde (Kim Novak) from the bay and must unravel the secrets of the past to find the key to his future.

This 60th Anniversary event includes exclusive insight from TCM host Eddie Muller.

Click on the image below and find out where the closest theater is in your area showing this Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece.

Before Moonlight: 10 films that celebrate the African American LGBT experience (LGBTQ Nation)

February 23, 2018

Great list from LGBTQ Nation featuring ten fantastic films celebrating the African-American LGBT experience. I’ve seen 9 out of 10. The only reason why I haven’t seen them all is I’m waiting for Saturday Church to come out on DVD. I’ve ordered a copy for the library’s collection. Seven are stellar films in their own right and I’d mark them as classics:

The Watermelon Woman – Cheryl Dunye’s indie masterpiece
Moonlight – Oscar finally got something right
PariahMudbound‘s Dee Rees’ debut film
Tongues Untied Marlon Riggs’ late 80’s doc on gay, black men
Brother to Brother – Anthony Mackie’s breakout performance
Looking for Langston – Isaac Julian’s love story to the Harlem Renaissance
Tangerine – Trans women of color in a film shot on an iPhone.

Looking for Langston – Isaac Julian (1989)

Be My Gaylentine 2018

February 14, 2018

When I first heard the word Galentine, I thought it meant Gay Valentine. Silly me. Anyway, it got me thinking. So here’s my Gaylentine, Leslentine, Bilentine list of my favorite LGB films filled with romance and love. Click on the link for Reel Charlie’s review.

Beautiful Thing
Freir Fall (Free Fall)
Giorni (Days)
God’s Own Country
Go Fish
Ha- Buah (The Bubble)
I Do
The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love 
Jongens (Boys)
My Beautiful Laundrette
Parting Glances
Reaching for the Moon

Seeing Ourselves in Film: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

January 26, 2018

Seeing Ourselves in Film: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) screening Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 1:30 pm. Fairfield Woods Branch Library. Click to register.

Looking: Season 1 (take 5)

January 14, 2018

Read my full review of Looking: Season 1. Simply gorgeous.

Great Documentaries

January 10, 2018

People often ask me for favorite film lists. First up, a list of 5-star rated documentaries. Not intended to be a complete list of every non-fiction film I’ve loved, this list represents a snapshot of films watched over a ten-year period. Originally I watched them through Netflix DVD, streaming over a 10-year period and prior to that while working at the wonderful Alternative Videos. No guarantee where these films are now. Search on your streaming device such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, or  search individual services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. You can always check your local library for DVDs, still free with a valid library card. Click on links for Reel Charlie review.


5 Broken Cameras
American Experience: Stonewall Uprising
Been Rich all my Life
Bigger, Stronger, Faster
Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary
Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin
Chris & Don: A Love Story
The Cockettes
Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Finding Vivian Maier 
How to Survive a Plague
Invisible War
Looking for Langston
My Architect: A Son’s Journey
Nomi Song
Prodigal Sons
Tillman Story
Tongues Untied
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl

Enjoy and let me know your favorite documentaries.

Radio Days

January 4, 2018

How many times have I seen and loved Woody Allen’s Radio Days over the past 30 years? Is it wrong to watch his older films and enjoy them? Film Forum in New York City currently screens a remastered Annie Hall for the 40th Anniversary of that film. Can we separate art from the person? Should we? I’m going to leave those questions open for you to ponder.

Radio Days takes all of Allen’s mid-career film elements and melds them perfectly into a love letter to an earlier time – the 1940’s, to New York City, and to the medium of radio which ushered in our global media appetite. Allen’s pacing in the film seems just as old-fashioned as the time period. Places he could have cut for our current attention span honor the film’s glorious moments, taking their time. Rather than ego, the slightly longer scenes feel like a question, “are you seeing this? – because it’s important.” A stellar cast including Julie Kavner, Michael Tucker, Dianne Weist, Seth Green, and Wallace Shawn with small and cameo roles from Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Jeff Daniels, Robert Joy, Kitty Carlisle, Danny Aiello, Gina DeAngeles, and Tito Puente (holding the Chihuahua while conducting). But it is Mia Farrow who steals the film with her hysterical, “Hark, I hear the cannon’s roar” line that honestly is one of the funniest scenes ever. I love Radio Days with its nostalgia defining story among a cast of characters both rich and poor. Two sides of an ever-changing New York City. 5 out of 5.

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