Archive for the ‘Decade: 1980's’ Category

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.

Sunset Limousine (take 3)

August 13, 2017

Tried giving Sunset Limousine another try – 1983 made-for-TV movie starring Susan Dey and John Ritter. Susan did two films with Ritter. Never been a big fan of his. Sunset Limousine is certainly not one of Susan’s finest moments. It’s an average tv movie from the era. Not great but not offensive. Click on the image below to read my original review.

Dynasty: Blake’s Trial & Homophobia and the Reincarnation of Steven Carrington

July 28, 2017

The two Steven Carringtons played by Al Corley and Jack Coleman.

The CW prepares to air a brand-new version of Dynasty this fall. It might be helpful to take a look back at this popular and troubled series before jumping into the 2017 version.

It’s incredible how my memory of the 80’s television soap continues to feel so positive. I remember my friend Pat coming over to my house and having a glass of champagne with my parents while we watched the ridiculous, over-the-top series. I remember a huge group of gay men in college converging on my friend Duane’s apartment because he had the biggest television. We howled, we screamed, we laughed together. In hindsight, I suppose any gay content was positive back then.

Watching the original Dynasty today streaming on Netflix, I am appalled at how homophobic and disgusting the plot lines were. Gay character Steven Carrington started out being gay and proud. Then he had an affair with a married woman – sleeping with her more than once, then slept with his male ex-lover Ted from NYC once, then Stephen’s father, Blake (the star of the show) went on trial for Ted’s murder. He did murder him. And Blake’s behavior towards Steven was nothing short of a bully. Blake was the perfect image of the disgusting treatment LGBT people faced during the Reagan Administration by Reagan himself (silence on AIDS) and the formation of the Religious Right. On Dynasty, fictional Steven married a woman and had a child with her. Why not make him bisexual? Such sad and revolting writing for a gay male character to endure.

There’s no way I could continue watching Dynasty today. Truth be told I fast-forwarded through episodes in Season 1 and Season 2 for a reminder of the murder trial. It’s unbelievable things were that bad for gay people in my lifetime. Yes I was an adult at the time and out. I guess we didn’t demand the respect in the media we do today. Of course things are far from perfect today, but we have a slew of LGBT characters on film and in television who do us proud.

I wrote extensively on Steven Carrington, The Two Steven Carringtons Legacy in 2015 for Reel Charlie.

For more on Blake’s disgusting behavior towards Steven later in the series, see Cora Buhlert’s blog post from 2013, Dynasty and socially acceptable homophobia.

The Dynasty reboot promises to be filled with a decidedly not confused Steven salaciously bedding a man named Sam – a nod to Heather Locklear’s Sammy Jo character. Gotta love 2017. Australian actor James Mackay plays Steven. The new Dynasty premieres October 11, 2017 on the CW after Riverdale.

The Brother from Another Planet

July 23, 2017

John Sayles’ 1984 indie film The Brother from Another Planet blends the best elements of several genres using a science fiction overlay to tell the story of race, class, and immigration and the many ways these issues frighten the dominant culture. With now historic outdoor scenes of Harlem in the early 80’s along with many trips on the A train north to 125th Street, New York City becomes synonymous with the issues of the time. Location shooting on the streets, in crowded tenements, in dreary offices, and a neighborhood bar set the ambiance of this classic indie film. Sayles’ long-term life and work partner Maggie Renzi produced and has a small role in the film as one of the office workers. Sayles wrote, directed, and edited his fourth film using funds he received from a 1983 MacArthur Fellows award. He even has a role along with one of his regular actors David Strathairn as they play the men in black seeking the alien who escaped from his imprisoned planet. Other John Sayles’ regulars include Joe Morton in the title role playing the alien who never utters a word, Bill Cobbs as a reminiscing bar patron, and Tom Wright as another frustrated office worker. The Brother from Another Planet stands out as a snapshot of the early 80’s and an excellent example of the creativity indie films can produce. 4 out of 5.

Eight Men Out

June 12, 2017

I’m screening a number of older John Sayles’ films for a Fall project I’m developing at the library. First up is Eight Men Out, the 1988 film about the The Chicago White Sox players who decide to throw the World Series of 1919. Featuring a classic Sayles ensemble cast including John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn, D. B. Sweeney, Studs Terkel and even John Sayles himself, Eight Men Out explores the complicated relationship between sports players and owners in the early 20th Century who didn’t appropriately compensate the players for their talent and draw. One of the great signatures of a John Sayles film is his effective use of a massive cast. My only complaint was the confusion of having a lot of young white male actors in baseball uniforms and a lot of older white male actors in suits and hats. I didn’t connect individually with many of the secondary characters. Still it felt like a John Sayles film. And absolutely worth the view if you’re a sports fan, especially historical baseball. 3.5 out of 5.

Director James Ivory (Merchant Ivory) at the NYC 30th Anniversary Screening of Maurice

May 21, 2017

What an honor to spend an evening watching the 4K remastered version of Merchant Ivory’s Maurice last night. For Maurice’s 30th Anniversary, the Quad Cinema in New York City hosted director James Ivory in a Q&A after the screening of the film. Truly a masterpiece, E.M. Forster’s adaptation felt just as fresh and necessary today as it did 30 years ago. And to think Forster and Ivory had the audacity to leave us with a hopeful ending. A sumptuous feast for romantics at heart. Always a 5 out of 5.

88 year-old James Ivory discussing the making of Merchant Ivory’s Maurice to a sold-out audience at the Quad Cinema in New York City. May 20, 2017.

Maurice at The Quad (NYC)

May 16, 2017

NYC peeps!

Opens Friday

New York Premiere of 30th Anniversary Restoration in 4K

A gay art cinema trailblazer about love and loss, Merchant-Ivory’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel follows a young man’s (James Wilby) struggle to come to terms with his sexual identity after his first love (Hugh Grant) abandons him for a respectable marriage.

With James Ivory in person following the 6:40pm screenings this Friday and Saturday
Reel Charlie’s got his tickets for Saturday night. See you there.
Purchase tickets.

‘Maurice’ returns to the big screen 30 years later (LA Blade)

April 29, 2017

My favorite film of all-time, Maurice returns to theaters after 30 years. From the Los Angeles Blade,

It’s been 30 years since “Maurice,” the Merchant-Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel of gay love, made its theatrical debut.

A lot has happened across that time span, not the least of it being the rapid gains LGBT rights have made, climaxed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage. Two entire generations of gay men suffered the ravages of a deadly AIDS epidemic. In that context, it is striking to see the film again, given all we have achieved since its release.

On the screen many gay love stories have come in “Maurice’s” wake, the most famous being the closeted sheepherder saga “Brokeback Mountain” (2005). But that was a gay love story with an unhappy ending. Those with happy ones like “Maurice” include “Beautiful Thing” (1996), a tale of gay lower middle-class British teenagers, and “Weekend” (2011), about an adult pair of British bohemians. But none have quite the special charge of “Maurice,” stemming from its lush setting and aristocratic-commoner breeding.

E.M. Forster (1879-1970) has long been acknowledged as one of Great Britain’s greatest writers. But he was largely the subject of academic study until the 1980s, when film adaptations of his work made him popular.

Cohen Media Group has re-mastered 30 films by the legendary Merchant Ivory Productions, including Maurice, which is set for release in select theaters this month.

Read the full article at Los Angeles Blade.
Read Reel Charlie’s review of Maurice.

I’m not thrilled with the new 4K poster. It should have James Wilby front and center with Rupert Graves next to him and Hugh Grant fuzzed out in the background. Hopefully the Blu-ray will have better cover art.

Be Mine 2017

February 14, 2017


If you’re a sucker for romance (and heartbreak), why not take a stroll through some great lesbian and gay love stories this Valentine’s Day? From Reel Charlie’s favorites list,

Beautiful Thing
Freir Fall (Free Fall)
Giorni (Days)go-fish
Go Fish
Ha- Buah (The Bubble)
I Do
The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls in Love 
Jongens (Boys)
My Beautiful Laundrette
Parting Glances
Presque Rien (Come Undone)
Reaching for the Moon

Golden Girls: Season 1

February 5, 2017

golden-girls-s1Been watching some old episodes of the The Golden Girls from Netflix DVD this past week. 32 years ago The Golden Girls premiered and ran for seven seasons. You may be wondering how old these “girls” were when they started the show? Rue McClanahan was the only actor who played close to her age. At 51, she was the sexy Blanche Devereaux. Estelle Getty at 62 played 80 year-old Sofia. And Bea Arthur and Betty White both started the show at 63 playing characters in their 50’s. Fast-forward to 2017 and we’ve got actors in their late 70’s playing seniors on Grace and Frankie. Jane Fonda turned 79 in December. Lily Tomlin turned 77 in September. Quite a change from the 80’s definition of older women. And as someone who is officially older than Blanche, I am grateful the new definition keeps getting older. My mother would call me vain. I just call myself practical.

The show continues to hold up and is a hoot to watch after all these years. Classic sit-com with stinging one-liners from the four comedic talents. Lots of confusion over how to be older in our culture which still exists today. And through it all, a house full of friendship and love. What a wonderful world. Thank you Susan Harris, Paul Junger Witt (The Partridge Family), and Tony Thomas for creating such a delightful show. 5 out of 5 for the memories.

The Golden Girls streams on Hulu February 13, 2017.


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