Archive for the ‘Decade: 1980's’ Category

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.


Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

December 11, 2016

Each year one of my recent Christmas traditions has been watching the insanely satisfying Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special. Having aired only once, the DVD captures all the magic of Paul Reubens crazy, kooky world frozen in time. Packed with a guest list that would impress even the most jaded queen in 1988, Pee-Wee’s Christmas features Zsa Zsa Gabor, Cher, the Del Rubio Triplets, Whoopi Goldberg, Grace Jones, Magic Johnson, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Charo, k.d. lang, Little Richard, Joan Rivers, Dinah Shore, and Oprah Winfrey. Honestly, this is the holy grail of guest star lists. Along with series cast regulars including S. Epatha Merkerson, Lynne Marie Stewart, Gilbert Lewis, Suzanne Kent, Laurence Fishburne, and Vic Trevino, it’s hard to imagine how they pack all these people into 49 minutes. Then you watch this opening number below and realize the energy of Pee-Wee could support a hundred guest stars. So sweet, so innocent, so inside joke, so alternative, so edgy, so classic. And he even manages to mention Christianity and Judaism without being preachy or disrespectful. Top that off with a multicultural cast and you’ve got one of the most diverse mainstream holiday specials ever produced. Be prepared to be amazed and laugh your way through an hour of the craziest Christmas special ever created! A 5 out of 5. Merry Christmas everyone indeed.

Watch the opening sequence below:

Happy 64th Birthday Susan Dey

December 10, 2016

Sweet Susan Dey turns 64 today. I hope she’s enjoying life in the Hudson Valley. Here’s a still from the great indie film, Echo Park (1986) and someone uploaded the entire TV movie, Bed of Lies (1992) starring Susan and Chris Cooper onto YouTube. Enjoy, Deydreamers.

ECHO PARK, Susan Dey, 1986, (c) Atlantic Releasing

ECHO PARK, Susan Dey, 1986, (c) Atlantic Releasing


World AIDS Day 2016

December 1, 2016


I rarely offer unsolicited advice. But this year given our collective, national, post-election anxiety, stress, and depression, I want to remind every one of one big thing. My generation survived AIDS*. Not everyone. There were a lot of casualties. And a lot of grief. It wasn’t easy. It was horrific and hard and brutal and exhausting. But we banded together and figured it out. Positive and negative, male and female, LGBT, queer, and straight, rural, urban, and suburban, rich, poor, and in-between, all colors, and all creeds. It’s what you do when you’re faced with a crisis.

So here we are once again facing an uncertain future. This time it’s not a disease affecting a few, but an amoral ideology infecting many. I have every hope we will rise up and morph our culture, country and world into the hopeful, inclusive, united planet we are meant to be. How else are we ever going to witness first contact? Seriously though, I’m here as a survivor. As someone who faced mortality and with the help of many am here today not just surviving, but thriving. I’m here to help, to offer occasional sage wisdom, to fight, to encourage, to support, and to love. As long as we are breathing we need to come together and work to make this world a better, more peaceful, kind, and prosperous place for all. We need to leave it in better shape than we found it for the next generation.

So this year, let Reel Charlie’s HIV/AIDS film list for World AIDS Day act as metaphor for a country in desperate need of healing. We faced the worst epidemic of the 20th Century. We are on our way to curing this disease once and for all so everyone affected by it can thrive. We can do the same for our democracy in the 21st Century.

*Disclaimer: I realize my view of the HIV/AIDS epidemic manifests from the lens of first-world, white male privilege. It is not my intent to ignore the continuing crisis of HIV/AIDS in poor and minority communities in the U.S. or in third world countries around the globe. Today my hope is to focus on the positive aspects of controlling HIV and eradicating AIDS which have allowed people like me to survive and thrive over the past 30 plus years since the discovery of the HIV virus. 49.6% of people infected with HIV globally currently have access to life-saving drugs which can make the disease chronic. See for details on the continuing struggle to eradicate HIV and AIDS.

Below find my favorite films that focus on HIV and AIDS.  Some are feature films, some documentaries, 2 are musicals:

The Adventures of Felix – celebratory French film about a young HIV+ man embracing life on the new medication in the mid-90’s.
And the Band Played On – based on journalist Randy Shilts’s book.
Angels in America – based on the award-winning play from Tony Kushner.
All About My Mother – one of the (still) few films using AIDS themes from a female perspective – an Almodovar classic.
Before I Forget – French film about an aging HIV+ male hustler.
Blue – Derek Jarman’s meditation on his AIDS diagnosis and imminent death.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt – Academy Award winning documentary on the AIDS Quilt.
Dallas Buyers Club – a straight-identified man starts one of the first buyers clubs in the U.S. bringing experimental drugs into the United States from other countries.
Days – Italian film about a sero-discordant couple (one HIV+, one HIV-).
How to Survive a Plague – outstanding documentary on the history of ACT-UP.
Jeffrey – explores the tension around gay men and sex during the AIDS crisis.
Longtime Companion – Hollywood film about NYC gay men dealing with the worst of the AIDS crisis.
The Normal Heart – HBO adaptation from Ryan Murphy of Larry Kramer’s award-winning play.
Parting Glances – Steve Bucemi’s break-out performance as a punk rock HIV+ gay man in NYC.
Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End (only released on VHS) – amazing documentary on the final days of writer Paul Monette.
Poison – Todd Haynes Queer Cinema classic.  Very experimental. Included on the disk and in the review is the short Last Address, an 8 minute film focusing on NYC buildings by director Ira Sachs.
Postcards from America – based on artist David Wojnarowicz’s life and writing.
Rent – the film based on the hit Broadway musical.
Sex in an Epidemic – documentary about the AIDS crisis in the United States.
Sex Positive – documentary of the evolution of “safer sex”.
Test – beautiful indie film about a young dancer in San Francisco deciding whether to take the new HIV test in the early 1980’s.
Vito – biopic on Vito Russo who wrote the seminal work on queer film, The Celluloid Closet and left us way to early from AIDS.
We Were Here – intimate documentary focusing on several people who witnessed the early plague years in San Francisco.
Zero Patience – John Greyson’s musical about AIDS.  still so out there and revolutionary.
Follow Reel Charlie’s Health category for future postings.
Happy Birthday to my dear friend, Barbara who loves sharing her birthday with World AIDS Day.

LGBTQ Film and Television History (SlideShare)

October 28, 2016

I updated my presentation I gave at Fairfield University last Spring for a program I did here at Fairfield Public Library on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Connecticut. LGBTQ Film and Television History is a great introduction to the many films that despised and eventually celebrated our culture. Many of these films I have reviewed here on Reel Charlie. The PowerPoint is available on LinkedIn and SlideShare. Feel free to have a look below.

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